International Child Abduction
Each signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is obligated to establish an in-country office charged with processing applications for assistance in obtaining the return of children who have been kidnapped to that country. This agency is called the “Central Authority, ” and operates in cooperation with all other members of the Hague Convention to assist in the return of children to their home countries through the Hague Convention process.
In the United States, the Central Authority operates under the aegis of the United States Department of State – Office of Children’s Issues. This office maintains a website with extremely helpful advice regarding actions a parent may take to secure the return of children who have been wrongfully taken or are being wrongfully retained in the United States or another country. In addition, the office processes applications for assistance in securing the voluntary return of children to the United States, when they have been wrongfully taken or retained abroad, or to other countries, when they are being held wrongfully in the United States. When the request for voluntary return is not successful, the office also maintains a list of attorneys who are willing to assist in the filing of a Hague Petition in a court in the country where the children are being retained wrongfully.
Our family law attorney, Patricia M. Lee, has been a referral attorney for the United States Central Authority for more than 25 years, and is listed as a mentor by the U.S. State Department to assist other, less experienced attorneys, in handling such cases. She has taught courses regarding the implementation of the Hague Convention at the international level for the U.S. Military, local bar associations and many other agencies working as child advocates. She has been named an expert in Hague matters in the United States and abroad. Recently, she was honored to be invited with only three other U.S. Hague Attorneys to advise the U.S. Office of Children’s Issues regarding what policies and procedures could be initiated and maintained to better assist left behind parents in securing the return of their children to their home countries. The topics included establishing/maintaining legal research databases in the difficult area of international/Hague Convention law, networking among attorneys specializing in this difficult area of the law, record/statistic maintenance for international kidnapping cases, and strategies and advice for left behind parents, including the processing of applications through the department.
In the event you find yourself victimized by child abduction, our firm is committed to provide you with experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate representation, and is able to work with a network of attorneys abroad, should the need arise.