The most common type of abduction is by one of the parents. International abductions usually occur when one parent has a background or upbringing in another country. When the marriage splits up it is not uncommon for one of the parents to want to return to their home country where their family, friends and support system are located. On some occasions that parent might bring the children out of the country. The other type of common abduction is in a custody dispute. When one of the parents “loses” in court, they sometimes feel that they can still “win” by abducting the children out of the country. In any of these abduction situations, the remaining parent is left trying to obtain the return of the children, or in some cases, trying to have any relationship with the children whatsoever.


How an international abduction case is handled depends entirely on whether the country to which the child is abducted is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.


When a child is taken to any country that has not signed the Hague Convention, the remaining parent must pursue their case in the courts of the country to which the child has been taken. This can be very expensive, and is often one of the motivations for removing the child in the first instance. Competent counsel should be obtained in the other country immediately. Often times the removing parent will file a custody action in the other country in an attempt to legitimize the abduction. If the remaining parents interests are not represented adequately, the other country might enter custody orders by default.

Depending upon the country, there is some chance that they will order the return of the child to the country from which they were taken. Often, however, the other country’s courts will take jurisdiction of the case even though the children have no connection to that country. The remaining parents only recourse is to fight the custody battle in the other country.


The following countries have signed the Hague Convention and are bound by its terms as of January, 2007:

Hague Convention Country or Territory Date of Entry
Andorra 2017/01/01
Argentina 1991/06/01
Armenia 2018/03/01
Australia 1988/01/01
Austria 1988/10/01
Bahamas, The 1994/01/01
Belgium 1999/05/01
Belize 1989/11/01
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1991/12/01
Brazil 2003/12/01
Bulgaria 2005/01/01
Burkina Faso 1992/11/01
Canada 1988/07/01
Chile 1994/07/01
China (Hong Kong & Macau only)
Hong Kong
Columbia 1996/06/01
Costa Rica 2008/01/01
Croatia 1991/12/01
Cyprus 1995/03/01
Czech Republic 1998/03/01
Denmark 1991/07/01
Dominican Republic 2007/06/01
Ecuador 1992/04/01
El Salvador 2007/06/01