Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC

International parental kidnapping and The Hague Convention

The turmoil of parental discord in Texas can lend itself to one parent seeking to relocate with the child. Sometimes that parent does not want to move across state lines but plans to take the child abroad.

If successful, getting a return of the child back to his or her home can be difficult.

Incarceration for international parental kidnapping

The United States Department of Justice explains that parents can be the subject of prosecution for committing a federal crime, and receive up the three years of incarceration, if they take their own children out of the United States. In order to violate Title 18, Section 1204 of the U.S. Code, the taking of the child must be with a specific intent to undermine the other parent’s rights of custody.

Extradition back to U.S. applies to parent, not child

Because the parent has allegedly committed the federal crime, once he or she is abroad, that parent can be subject to extradition back to the U.S. Interestingly, however, the child, who is not the subject of the criminal charges, cannot. Rather, the child is a victim of an international parental kidnapping and criminal extradition does not apply.

The help of The Hague Convention versus mere negotiations

At times, The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction will govern the return of the child to the U.S. In the fortunate event The Hague Convention applies, there will be no need to go to court in the foreign country to obtain custody rights under that country’s laws. Rather, the child can benefit from a return much more quickly to his or her habitual home.

However, The Hague Convention’s applicability remains limited to those situations where both the U.S. and the foreign country are part of The Hague Convention. Foreign countries that are not signatories of The Hague Convention will typically not have to obey it. While the U.S. is involved in The Hague Convention, the other country may not be, and the procedures will not apply.

If that happens, then the return of the kidnapped child may depend on successful negotiations and coordination with the foreign country’s law enforcement and other officials. Either way, the U.S. Department of State works to obtain a return of the child.

Texas continues to handle all other custody issues

It is important to note that the federal government’s involvement in the custody situation remains exclusively limited to international parental kidnapping. In all other child custody disputes or circumstances involving Texas, the state having jurisdiction, and the local government, will be handling this aspect of family law, including parents seeking domestic relocation.

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At Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC, we have received a variety of honors and awards for our family law services. Members of our team have been listed as Top Lawyers in San Antonio Scene magazine. We take pride in the number of positive reviews we have received from satisfied clients. On AVVO, a lawyer rating website, we have received an 8.9 rating overall and many positive ratings from clients and colleagues.

  1. Top 10 Attorneys | American Jurist Institute | 2017
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  3. Avvo Clients' Choice Award 2015 | Jamie Lynn Heggy Graham
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Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC
310 South St. Mary's Street
Suite 2500
San Antonio, TX 78205

Phone: 210-272-7034
Fax: 210-308-5669