Updated February 2017 Fact Sheet PDF
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty between many nations that was made to secure the quick return of a child who has been internationally abducted.
This can help you locate your children and seek their return. Military personnel and their families live in a very mobile society. Relocating can create unique problems for a parent who is divorced or never married to their child’s other parent.
Legal documents (often called custody orders) state who the legal and physical custodial parent is. Sometimes these custody orders are in a decree of divorce. Sometimes, if the parents never married, then there may not be any legal document about custody.
What Can You Do?
If a child is missing, first contact your local police department, file a missing person report, and request entry of the report into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Always keep a copy of birth certificates and a recent photo of each child.
The State Department can provide detailed information about the country where the child was abducted. This can include information about its legal system, family laws, and attorneys willing to accept American clients.
The State Department can also:
- be a point of contact to parents in need
- monitor court or other legal proceedings overseas
- assist parents in contacting local officials in foreign countries
Contacting the State Department
A new toll-free number from the U.S. State Department can give you information you need on international parental child abduction.
Agents are available at 1-202-485-6205 to assist you from 7:15 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call toll-free 1-888-407-4747 outside office hours; citizens abroad may call 1-202-501-4444 outside office hours.
Passport Lookout Database
Parents can also have their child listed in a federal passport look-out database in case a passport is applied for in the child's name.
For more information, visit travel.state.gov and search for “preventing international parental child abduction.”
- the Hague Convention does not decide who should have custody; instead, it decides which country has jurisdiction of the case
- the Hague Convention only applies to countries that have signed the treaty
- the United States signed the treaty in 1988; more than 50 other countries have also signed the treaty
- both countries have to be members (by having signed the treaty) of the Hague Convention
- it is only available when a child has been wrongfully removed from their country and taken to another country
- the petitioner (often the other parent) must show that the removal or retention is “wrongful”
- return of the child is to the member nation rather than specifically to the left-behind parent
- only applies to children 15 and younger