Getting a Voluntary Agreement
Voluntary Return or Access Letters: Hague Cases Only
Once our office confirms your child’s location in the United States, the next step is to find a voluntary resolution for your case. You will be asked to fill out a form indicating your wishes to proceed with an attempt at voluntarily resolving your case.
The U.S. Central Authority helps parents with voluntary return and access attempts by sending a letter to the parent with the child. This letter simply provides general information about the Hague Convention, explains our role as a Central Authority, and suggests that, in light of the high costs and stress typically involved in litigation, that they consider voluntarily returning the children to their place of habitual residence or providing voluntary access to the applicant parent. Our office requires that the parent with the child respond within two weeks. If the parent agrees to voluntarily return the children or provide access, the country officer will inform the Foreign Central Authority of the positive response. If the parent does not agree to return the children voluntarily or does not respond to the letter, the country officer will notify the Foreign Central Authority and the case will then proceed to litigation under the Convention.
NOTE: If your child is located in California, the California Attorney General’s Office does not normally send voluntary return or access letters.
What is Mediation? Mediation is a process in which the parties work with a trained, impartial professional, to generate a negotiated agreement to their dispute. For more on Mediation, please click here.
Parents who consider mediation should always consult with their legal representatives for guidance. The Office of Children’s Issues can provide resources about mediation programs in the United States and other countries but cannot give advice about whether or how to proceed.
Although the Department of State cannot recommend specific mediation programs, below are some resources that parents may consider. This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any organization or individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the organizations included in this list.
- The Academy
- Accord Global
- American Bar Association Family Law Section
- Association for Conflict Association
- Association of Family Law and Conciliation Courts
- Global Justice Initiative
Consult with your attorney before making any decisions that could impact the outcome of your legal case.
What You Can Do
Contact the Authorities
Learn about the Hague Abduction Convention
State Departments Role
Steps You Can Take on Your Own
What is the Hague Abduction Convention
Explore Your Legal Options
Prepare for Reuniting with Your Child
The State Department's Role
Steps You Can Take on Your Own
Office of Children's Issues at the U.S. Department of State
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.