You may wish to consider using the civil justice system in the country to which your child was taken to try to return your child to the United States if:
This usually will involve the family court system of that country. Please consult with your legal representatives before pursuing any action in the foreign courts.
Challenges to Using the Civil Justice System in Foreign Countries
There are many challenges that parents face in trying to use the civil justice system in countries where the Hague Convention remedy is not available. For example:
Additionally, courts in other countries often do not recognize prior court decisions made in the United States. When confronting this challenge, keep in mind the following three things:
Proceeding with the Civil Justice System in Foreign Countries:
Even if your custody order from the United States has no legal authority in another country, it still might help you. While a foreign court may not recognize a U.S. court order, it may still consider it as evidence. In rare cases, the foreign court may even decide to recognize and enforce the custody order on the basis of comity (voluntary respect of one country for the laws and judicial decisions of another country).
Ultimately, the foreign court will decide a child custody case on the basis of its own domestic laws; it is at the discretion of that court whether or not to give any weight to a U.S. court order.
If you decide to use the civil justice system in a country that is not a U.S. partner under the Hague Abduction convention, you will likely need to retain an attorney in the country to which your child was taken. Please read our flyer about retaining a foreign attorney for more information about hiring an attorney abroad. Additionally, the country officer in our office may be able to provide you with some background about that country. Keep in mind that they are not able to provide legal advice, but they can provide information and direct you to additional resources as you proceed with the emotional and difficult task ahead.
Tips to Keep in Mind