July 14, 2016
The U.S. Department of State reported yesterday that more than 600 children were abducted by parents from the United States to another country in 2015.
A substantial number of those children may never be returned to their parents in the United States. The Department of State’s 2016 Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction released yesterday reported that only 299 children whose habitual residence was in the United States were returned in 2015.
The staggering numbers contained in the Report make it clear that parents must proceed with caution if they believe the other parent has any intention of abducting their child from the United States. Any parent who has concerns about the other parent abducting their child should immediately consult with an attorney who has knowledge and experience handling proceedings brought pursuant to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, done at the Hague on October 25, 1980.
An experienced attorney may be able to advise the parent on preventive measures such as enrolling the child in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program and seeking a court order enjoining the other parent from traveling abroad. If the child has already been abducted, an experienced attorney can assist with submitting the necessary papers to request the return of the child, liaise with counsel in the country to which the child has been abducted, and provide assistance to that foreign counsel as necessary to seek the return of the child to the United States.
In addition to identifying the number of children abducted by a parent from the United States to another country in 2015, the 2016 Annual Report assesses the extent to which certain Hague Convention partners have complied with the Convention. The Department of State reported that the following countries have not complied with the Convention: Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Romania. In determining whether the Hague Convention partner countries were in compliance, the criteria examined by the Department of State included the following: the number of unresolved cases; the extent to which the judicial authority implemented and complied with the Hague Convention provisions; the failure of law enforcement to locate abducted children; failure to enforce return orders; and the amount of time devoted to the appeals process.
The 2016 Annual Report also details the extreme difficulties in attempting to seek the return of abducted children from countries that are not Hague Convention partners. According to the Report, countries that demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance in 2015 were: Egypt, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, and Tunisia. For each of those countries, the Department of State examined the extent to which the country did or did not adhere to any protocols with respect to international child abduction.
The 2016 Annual Report is available here.
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