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What You Should Know About International Child Abduction if Your Child is Abducted From San Diego in 2013

What Does International Child Abduction Mean to a San Diego Parent?

In San Diego, when a parent takes his or her child to a foreign country unlawfully it is known as International Parental Child Abduction. This can be as a result of a violation of a court order either in a legal separation, divorce or paternity. With the growing number of inter-nationality marriages, some state the incidence of international child abductions is steadily on the increase, not just in the United States but in several other countries with a large inter-nationality population. Some children have dual nationalities as do some parents and this can complicate an already complicated issue.

What Can a San Diego Parent Do if Without Consent His/Her Child Has Been Taken Overseas?

Child abduction is stressful at the best of times and more so when the child is taken overseas because it is outside the jurisdiction of local law enforcement agencies. The first thing you need to do is determine if the country where the child has been taken to is a signatory of the Hague Convention. If the country is a party to the Convention there are well-established and clearly defined guidelines about what you have to do to get your child returned to the home country and, specifically, San Diego..

You must simultaneously contact your local police department and file a missing-person's report. The police will, through official channels, have the data fed into the appropriate computer server and notify Interpol, the International Police Agency. Interpol in turn will intimate the police in the country where you believe the child to be to initiate a search for the missing child. You should also contact the Child Abduction Unit of the San Diego District Attorney's Office as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The US Department of State may also be available to help with the filing of the Hague Petition for Return.

What Exactly Is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention is an abbreviation for The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction as well as other issues. This is an agreement between signatory countries to work jointly toward the return to their home country of children who have been abducted. The objective of the Convention is to internationally protect children and return them to their home country when they have been wrongfully removed from their home country and are being unlawfully detained out of the country. It also sets out a clearly-defined procedure for the speedy return of the child. The Convention is only binding on member states.

When you report an international child abduction you will need to furnish the following to your child kidnapping attorney or other party:

  • A copy of your custody decree issued by a United States Court, or that of another country. Ensure that the copy is certified.
  • Whether you have been in contact with the abduction parent, his or her family or friends and what has transpired so far.
What Is the Significance of the Custody Decree?

In many countries and indeed many American states including San Diego, equal legal custody is often awarded to both parents. That being the case it may not be illegal for one parent to take the child overseas. A legal custody is a must between parents if they have decided to separate or divorce. If you've decided on joint custody as a mutually acceptable solution you should ensure that your decree requires your written agreement or an Order of the Court before your child can be taken out of the country or even the State and, for many, even San Diego County!

What if the Child Has Been Taken to a Country Which Is Not a Signatory Member of the Hague Convention?

This is a tricky situation where your options are limited. One option would be to hire an attorney who practices in the country where your child is being detained, and move forward from there. The State Department will offer assistance but may be able to do very little officially.

Doppelt and Forney, APLC

Doppelt and Forney, APLC is a family law firm in San Diego which provides legal services in family kidnappings related to divorce or separations. In fact it provides service also in child custody, child support, and visitation rights. This law firm can assist in liaising with a foreign attorney if your child has been abducted and taken overseas.

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