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Four Remedies for Abduction of a Child by a Parent

In the 1960s and 1970s, the trend of one parent taking a child to another state or country was recognized and remedies were implemented. There are over 200,000 parental abductions each year. This blog post summarizes the four legal remedies available for inter-state and international custody disputes where one parent simply leaves with the child.

Within the United States, a federal law, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 helps address the issue within the states. Its policies are aimed at deterring abductions, limiting interstate conflicts of law, and primarily promote or facilitate cooperation between states by resolving jurisdiction conflicts. This is not as readily utilized, but is sometimes a better choice than state law because it may be prosecuted in federal court.

The more commonly utilized law that passed by and entered into between the states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act. This has provisions to determine a child’s home state for the litigation (as the most common basis) and for courts in different states to communicate to the settled upon court in a specific state for trial. This act ceases to apply after children turn eighteen.

When children are taken to different countries, there are two primary remedies. The first is The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. This only applies between countries who have signed the treaty and ratified it within their country. This body of law helps courts in signatory countries return the children to their “habitual residence.” It ceases to apply when the children turn 16.

In cases that are not signatories, several African nations and many in the Middle East, there are several remedies of varying legal effect and legality. In such abductions, it is almost always necessary to get attorneys in both countries as soon as the child is located. The limited remedies are treaties between countries to return children (this is not generally applicable to the United States), political intervention between respective diplomats in each country, the most effective global treaty is the Unitization of the Convention of the Rights of the Child that keeps lines of communication open between countries and allow the child’s participation in the process to some degree. The last “remedy” that often makes the news by its terrible failure and harsh consequences is re-abduction by paid “mercenaries.”

This is the patchwork of extra-ordinary complexity that exists to address parental abduction of children. We hope this blog post assists you in understanding the United States and global remedies for parental abductions. This blog is not a solicitation for legal services or intended to be legal advice. It is advertising. Ciyou & Dixon attorneys handle complex custody cases, property, and divorce with Indiana dimensions throughout the world.


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Dixon & Moseley, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

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Based in Indianapolis and founded in 1995, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. is a niche law firm focused on successfully dealing with the complexities of divorce, high-conflict child custody and family law. Known for their ability to solve extremely complex situations with high quality work and responsiveness, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. will guide you every step of the way. The family law attorneys at Dixon & Moseley, P.C. will help you precisely identify your objectives and the means to reach your desired result. Life is uncertain. Be certain of your counsel. Indianapolis Divorce Attorneys, Dixon & Moseley, P.C.

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