Tag Archive for: Family Child Abduction

Hague Convention Attorneys in Action

At Masters Law Group, our Hague Convention attorneys have extensive experience handling complex international disputes.

Navigating international family law can be complex and challenging, especially when it comes to child abduction disputes. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, aka the Hague Convention, is an international treaty that protects children from parental abduction across international borders. This blog will highlight rulings demonstrating the Convention’s effectiveness in resolving cross-border disputes.

Join us as we explore the legal framework, showing how it translates into real-world victories and how our Hague Convention attorneys can assist you. Here’s what you need to know.


The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”). It provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from the U.S. can petition for the child’s return to their country of habitual residence. Each country appoints central authorities to help resolve these disputes. As of 2024, there are 91 countries involved in the Hague Convention.

Families need to understand the importance of the Hague Convention when they find themselves involved in international disputes. Here are some tips to follow if you find yourself in this situation:

  • Prompt action is crucial: If you believe your child has been wrongfully removed or retained in a Hague Convention country, it is essential to act promptly. Initiating legal proceedings increases the chances of a successful resolution.
  • Contact the central authority: In the United States, the Office of Children’s Issues within the U.S. Department of State is the foremost authority for Hague Convention matters. They can provide information, resources, and assistance locating and returning your child.
  • Gather evidence: It is essential to gather evidence demonstrating your child’s habitual residence and the wrongful removal or retention. Documentation such as birth certificates and communication records can strengthen your case.
  • Consulting with a family law attorney: A family law attorney with experience in Hague law is recommended. They can guide you through the legal process and help you navigate the complexities of the Hague Convention.

Dealing with international disputes can be emotionally demanding, so preparing for the challenges is essential. Working with a Hague Convention attorney can provide valuable support. Now, let’s explore some recent Hague Convention cases to see how these principles are applied in real-world situations.


In our most recent case that concluded on February 20, 2024, the husband – represented by Masters Law Group –  filed a petition to return his two children. His children were taken from his residence in Colombia to the United States by their mother. The parties were married in the United States in 2012 and lived together in Colombia. 

The Respondent took the children to the U.S. for a family reunion but faced delays in their passport renewal. This case arises under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 42 U.S.C. § 11601 et seq., which implements the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

This Act allows a person whose child has been removed from his custody in another country and taken to the United States to petition in federal or state court for the return of the child. The court would later find in favor of the Petitioner, concluding that the Respondent wrongfully retained the children and dismissing her claim of grave risk of harm. The Petitioner’s request for the return of the children to Colombia is granted.


In the Eastern District of Wisconsin / Mexico, Hinnendael, the father of the children (Petitioner), sought to relocate his children back to the United States from Mexico against the other parent’s wishes.

The court found that returning the children would subject them to a grave risk of psychological harm or otherwise place them in an intolerable situation. Accordingly, the retention of children in the United States was not wrongful within the meaning of the Convention. The petition was denied, and this action was dismissed.

By invoking the Hague Convention, our attorneys successfully advocated for the children. This case helps highlight the effectiveness of the Hague Law in resolving child abduction cases and prioritizing the children’s welfare.


In the Northern District of Illinois / New Zealand, Ho, the husband – represented by our firm –  filed a petition for the return of his child. The child was taken from his residence in New Zealand to the United States by his wife – the mother of the child. As relevant here, the Hague Convention provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed or retained in the United States may petition for the child’s return to their country of habitual residence.

By agreement of the parties and as required by the Convention, the court concludes that the child was a habitual resident of New Zealand at the time of the wrongful retention in the United States. The Petitioner exercised parental responsibility rights under New Zealand law, and this case did not establish the “grave risk” exception.

The court granted the petition for the child’s return to New Zealand and allowed an approximate one-week period to avoid any abrupt transition for the child. This case demonstrated the Hague Law’s role in helping ensure fairness, predictability, and respect for due process in international child abduction cases.


In the Northern District of Illinois / Lithuania, Sulcaite Masters Law Group helped resolve the wrongful removal of children. The courts considered the parents’ last shared intent to their child’s country of residence.

The Respondent and the Petitioner agreed that their children would reside in Chicago temporarily. After three years, they were to return to Lithuania, their country of origin.

However, as time passed, the children became acclimated to their new life in the United States. Their mother’s remarriage and new baby created a strong family bond, and Chicago gradually became their familiar home. Considering these factors, the court denied the Petitioner for the children’s return. The decision reflected a recognition of the children’s well-being and stability, prioritizing their best interests.

This case showcases the effective advocacy of our Hague Convention attorneys in navigating complex international disputes. The legal team successfully obtained a favorable outcome for the parties involved by presenting compelling evidence.


In the Northern District of California / Cyprus, the husband – represented by Masters Law Group –  filed a petition to return his child, who was taken from Cyprus to the United States by his wife – the child’s mother. The child’s father (Petitioner) had full parental rights to the child since his parents’ separation in 2014. The minor came to the United States for a six-week visit with his mother (Respondent) in California. At the end of the visit, the Petitioner came to collect his son but was unsuccessful.

Nearly one week after the scheduled meet-up went awry, the child’s father filed a Hague Convention plea. The court granted the petition and ordered the child to return to Cyprus in the custody of his father. In addition, the court did not impose a longer stay without agreement from both sides. The court ultimately ordered the return of a child under an action under U.S.C.S.C. § 9003.

These cases showcase our commitment to navigating international child abduction disputes and achieving favorable outcomes for our clients.


The Hague Convention continues to play a pivotal role in reuniting families affected by parental child abduction. At Masters Law Group, we understand the complexities of international child abduction disputes and the importance of finding a resolution that aligns with your objectives.

Our Hague Convention attorneys will tirelessly advocate for your interests and work towards a favorable outcome. We prioritize open communication with our clients and strive to provide personalized attention to address your concerns.

To learn more about how we can help you, schedule your complimentary consultation today.

Hague Convention Law for Parental Child Abduction

Family abductions account for 49 percent of all child abduction cases. Addressing the distressing issue of parental child abduction entails substantial emotional and legal consequences for all parties involved. 

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was established in 1980 and entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983 to address the complex issue of international parental child abduction. 

In this blog, we will explore the key aspects of the Hague Convention, shedding light on how a family law attorney can play a crucial role in helping navigate these delicate cases.


International parental child abduction is a distressing problem that impacts families worldwide. This issue has profound emotional, psychological, and legal implications for those involved. Due to the increase in international travel, parental child abduction cases have increased, too. But what is categorized as International Parental Child Abduction?

As per Travel.State.Gov, international parental child abduction is the removal or retention of a child outside their country of habitual residence in breach of another parent or guardian’s custody rights. The Office of Children’s Issues within the U.S. Department of State is a leader in U.S. government efforts to prevent international parental child abduction (both from the United States and to the United States), help children and families involved in abduction cases, and promote the objectives of the Hague Abduction Convention.


The Hague Convention provides a framework for cooperation between signatory countries in resolving international child abduction cases. This multilateral agreement establishes guidelines for the prompt return of wrongfully removed or retained children. Child abduction attorneys with experience in The Hague Convention can guide families through the legal process to help maximize the chances of a successful outcome. Here are a few ways a Child Abduction Lawyer can help:

  • Legal Experience: A child abduction attorney with experience handling Hague Convention cases possesses in-depth knowledge of the legal framework surrounding international child abduction issues.
  • Prevention Strategies: They can set proactive measures to prevent child abduction. This includes obtaining court orders, creating detailed parenting plans, and securing necessary travel permissions.
  • Hague Convention Compliance: A knowledgeable attorney can guide parents through initiating Hague Convention proceedings, helping to ensure that all necessary documents and evidence are prepared and presented per the Convention’s requirements.
  • Timely Response: Swift action is crucial in child abduction cases. A dedicated attorney can expedite the legal process, filing petitions promptly and coordinating with relevant authorities to locate and return the child promptly.

The Hague Convention works with central authorities to help foster communication and coordinate for the child’s safe return. Let’s take a look at what the central authorities can do.


Each signatory country designates a Central Authority as a point of contact for international child abduction cases. The Central Authority is crucial in facilitating communication and cooperation between countries involved in resolving these cases.

  • Communication: The Central Authority is a liaison between the left-behind parent and the foreign country. They work closely with other countries to exchange information, coordinate legal proceedings, and help communication.
  • Receiving and Processing Applications: When a parent seeks the return of their child under the Hague Convention, they apply to their home country’s Central Authority. The Central Authority receives and processes these applications, verifying their completeness and compliance with the requirements of the Convention.
  • Initiating Legal Proceedings: Once the Central Authority receives a complete application, they initiate legal proceedings in the country where the child is.
  • Information and Guidance: The Central Authority helps parents through legal procedures and obligations under the Hague Convention to be well-informed throughout the process.
  • International Cooperation: Central Authorities also engage in international cooperation to enhance the effectiveness of the Hague Convention. They participate in conferences, meetings, and training programs to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and strengthen the global network of Central Authorities.

Remember that the specific functions and procedures of the Central Authority may vary slightly between countries. To obtain accurate and country-specific information, consulting with an attorney with experience in international child abduction cases is essential.


Addressing issues beyond national borders necessitates efficient coordination with authorities from different countries. This coordination helps individuals navigate high-stakes proceedings seamlessly. Family law attorneys with experience in international abduction cases understand the Hague Convention’s intricacies and relevant international family law.

A skilled family law attorney can adeptly engage with international legal channels to apply the Hague Convention properly. At Masters Law Group, our steadfast attorneys work with local authorities in the abductor’s destination country to monitor compliance with court orders. This allows us to take necessary actions to help facilitate the child’s return if there are any obstacles or delays. 


It is important to work with legal professionals who understand the importance of the safety and well-being of your child. Masters Law Group, led by Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph, is experienced in handling delicate, time-sensitive matters involving international parental child abduction. Our attorneys are highly skilled in these areas, litigating in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system.

See Our Featured Hague Decisions Here:


The Hague Convention provides a framework for addressing parental child abduction on an international scale. In these high-stakes situations, the experience of a family law attorney can be beneficial in initiating the safe return of your child or children. 

Contact us today to set up your complimentary consultation.

Child Abduction Attorney: Preventing Parental Child Abduction

Parental child abduction is a distressing reality that affects families worldwide, with parents being accountable for over 90% of abductions. This phenomenon occurs when one parent wrongfully takes a child from the other parent and violates custody arrangements or court orders.

These situations can emotionally traumatize the child and other parties involved. Here, we will explore ways to prevent parental child abduction and how a child abduction attorney can help protect your child’s well-being. Here’s what you need to know.


Parental child abduction typically occurs during or after a separation or divorce when parenting time disputes become contentious. These disputes can occur due to various factors, including disagreements over parenting styles and financial issues. Some parents resort to abduction as a desperate and harmful solution as tensions escalate.

Motivations for parental child abduction vary widely. In certain cases, a parent resorts to abduction as revenge against their former partner, using the child to inflict emotional pain and manipulate the situation. In other instances, driven by fear for their child’s safety, a parent may wrongfully take the child, even without concrete evidence supporting their concerns. This misguided attempt at protecting the child can lead to abduction. These diverse motivations stress parental child abduction cases’ complexity and emotional toll.

Regardless of the motivations, parental child abduction can have severe consequences for the parties involved. The emotional and psychological trauma inflicted upon the child is profound, often resulting in feelings of confusion, anxiety, and insecurity. The left-behind parent is in anguish and uncertainty, desperate to reunite with their child. Given parental child abduction’s complexities and emotional toll, preventing it from happening to your family is crucial.


The stark reality is that almost 5% of children in the US have experienced a parental abduction in their lifetime. Proactive measures are paramount to protect your child’s well-being and prevent the distressing reality of parental child abduction. In Illinois, parenting time laws typically favor what’s best for the child’s interests. A parenting plan will usually recognize the following:

  • The parent-child relationship’s continuity is typically in the child’s best interest.
  • The needs of children change and grow as they mature.
  • Custodial parents make daily decisions (including emergencies) while the child is with that particular parent.
  • Both parents are to have access to a child’s official records.

A parenting plan will give you and your child an added layer of protection should they be abducted. However, it’s always best to consult an experienced family law attorney regarding effective travel consent letters and their limitations.


Effective co-parenting can help prevent potential parental child abduction. Taking the right steps is crucial for the well-being of your child. Here are some practical tips to navigate co-parenting successfully:

  1. Legal Documentation: Confirm that all parenting time arrangements are legally documented and enforceable through court orders. Consult with a child abduction attorney to draft a legally binding parenting plan.
  2. Mediation and Counseling: Consider family mediation or counseling in high conflict or disputes. These services can help parents work through their issues in a neutral and constructive environment, reducing the likelihood of abduction.
  3. Obtain a Court Order: If you believe there is a significant risk of parental child abduction, it may be necessary to obtain a court order that restricts the other parent’s ability to travel with your child without permission or supervision.
  4. Passport Restrictions: If you have concerns about your child being taken out of the country, consider requesting a court order that restricts the child’s ability to obtain a passport without both parents’ consent.

By following these co-parenting tips, you can create a safer and more stable environment for your child while minimizing the risk of parental child abduction. Collaborating with a child abduction attorney can be instrumental in achieving this goal.

How a Child Abduction Attorney Can Help

Dealing with parental child abduction, whether within the U.S. or internationally, presents significant challenges for parents and children. Seeking legal assistance is crucial in effectively navigating parental child abduction cases. When you partner with an experienced child abduction attorney, such as those at Masters Law Group, you gain the support needed to advocate for your family’s best interests. Here are some ways they can help:

  • Legal Advice: Child abduction attorneys have experience in family law and parental child abduction cases. They understand the complexities of these situations and can guide your rights and options.
  • Court Representation: In cases where abduction has occurred, your attorney can represent you to obtain emergency orders. This includes restraining orders or parenting time modifications to protect your child.
  • International Abduction: A child abduction attorney can work with the proper authorities to prevent your child from leaving the country.
  • Advocacy and Support: Child abduction attorneys provide legal advice, emotional support, and guidance. They can help you navigate the difficult terrain of parental child abduction cases.
  • Hague Convention: If your child is taken to another country, a child abduction attorney can help you navigate the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Convention is an international treaty designed to facilitate the safe return of children wrongfully removed from their country of habitual residence.


Nothing can make a parent feel more helpless than having a child taken or held in a foreign jurisdiction. Preventing parental child abduction is critical for any parent facing parenting time disputes or separation. 

Support from a child abduction attorney can help reduce the risk of abduction and protect your family’s well-being. If you believe your child is in the process of being abducted by a parent or legal guardian, contact the family law attorneys at Masters Law Group.

Our Senior Attorneys, Erin Masters, and Anthony Joseph, have extensive experience in cases involving international parenting time disputes in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court systems.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Family Child Abduction

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that approximately 200,000 of the 260,000 children abducted each year are taken by a parent or other family member. Family Child Abduction is a very serious criminal offense that can have devastating effects on children and parents.

Family child abduction is illegal in every state, and it is often treated as a felony-level offense that can result in prison upon conviction. In many cases, family abductions occur in the midst of bitter divorce or child custody battles. The child may be kept beyond a court allotted visitation period or the parent may pick up the child from school or daycare without permission and not return the child. In other cases, a child may be abducted by a family member and may face physical or sexual abuse.

The Frightening Family Abduction Statistics

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, led a team of researchers who sought a better estimate of the prevalence of family abduction. They used data from three waves of the National Surveys of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2008, 2011 and 2014, the surveys asked children aged 10 to 17 years about their life experiences. Information about children aged 9 and younger was gathered from caregivers.

Some key findings:

  • 4 percent of children in the sample had experienced family abduction and 1.2 percent had experienced it within the past year. Based on this information, the researchers estimate that 875,000 children a year – 12 per 1,000 — are either abducted by a relative.
  • Parents were the perpetrators in more than 90 percent of abductions. Mothers and female family members were responsible for the majority – 60 percent. However, fathers and male relatives were responsible for 64 percent of all abductions.
  • Children who have been abducted are more likely to be from low-income households and have separated, estranged or divorced parents. In two-parent families, an estimated nine children per 1,000 experience an abduction compared to 84 per 1,000 in single-parent households.
  • 43 percent of abductions were reported to the police, including 86 percent of family abductions.

If you are facing a family abduction matter, call the police immediately. These cases are treated very seriously and many AMBER alerts that are issued stem from family abductions. Even where the child may not face an imminent threat of physical harm, law enforcement will treat these types of abductions as high priorities and will work to return the child to his or her parent.

International Family Abductions

International child abduction is a distressing problem that impacts numerous families worldwide. This issue has profound emotional, psychological, and legal implications for those involved. Due to the increasing ease of international travel, these cases are sadly on the rise.

But what classifies as International Parental Child Abduction? As per Travel.State.Gov, international parental child abduction is the removal or retention of a child outside their country of habitual residence in breach of another parent or guardian’s custody rights.  The Office of Children’s Issues within the U.S. Department of State is a leader in U.S. government efforts to prevent international parental child abduction (both from the United States and to the United States), help children and families involved in abduction cases, and promote the objectives of the Hague Abduction Convention.

Causes and Factors of International Child Abduction

A variety of factors drive international child abduction. Child abduction often occurs after separations, divorces, or custody disputes. Let’s take a look at some additional factors that contribute to international child abduction:

  • Cultural and Economic Reasons: Globalization and increased international mobility have prompted some parents to return to their native countries, often taking their children. These reasons are often influenced by a desire to maintain cultural connections, be closer to extended family, or seek better economic opportunities in their home nation.
  • Fear of Child’s Well-being: Concerns about the child’s safety in the other parent’s environment can drive some parents to abduct their child when they believe it offers better conditions.
  • Parental Alienation: In some cases, one parent might feel alienated from the child due to actual or perceived biases in the custody proceedings. Parental Alienation can foster desperation, prompting the alienated parent to resort to drastic measures like abduction to regain control over the situation.
  • Lack of Robust Legal Framework: Different legal systems and international treaties across countries are challenging. Not all countries are part of the Hague Convention of Civil Aspects. The lack of a legal framework in certain countries creates loopholes that abducting parents might exploit. The absence of streamlined procedures for cross-border child custody disputes can complicate efforts to prevent international abduction.

To effectively tackle the underlying issues of international child abduction, it’s essential to take a thorough approach. An effective process might involve enhancing parents’ communication and establishing robust support systems. We can work together to prevent the detrimental effects of international child abduction families by addressing these factors across borders.

Preventing  Child Abduction

When parents can’t agree on where a child should live, working with an attorney experienced in child abductions can help. If you think the other parent has taken your child, here’s what you can do:

  1. Get a Court Order or Custody Decree: It’s essential to have a clear court order that outlines custody arrangements and travel restrictions. This order can help prevent unwanted travel with the child. Court orders can also address matters like passports and custody details.
  2. Consult a Child Abduction Attorney: Talk to an attorney who knows about these situations. They can help you understand your options and might suggest getting an order that stops the child from leaving the country.
  3. Look for Warning Signs: Watch for sudden changes in the other parent’s life, like quitting a job or selling a home. These changes could indicate plans to move. You can find more information on our Resources for Parents page.
  4. Tell the Police and Share Court Orders: Inform the local police about the situation and give them copies of your court orders, including any custody, protection, or restraining orders you have.
  5. Contact a Foreign Embassy or Consulate: If your child is a dual national of another country, consider contacting that country’s embassy or consulate.
  6. Know About Travel Rules: The United States doesn’t have strict rules for children leaving the country. Even without both parents’ agreement, a child can cross borders. Without a clear court order saying otherwise, it can be challenging for law enforcement to stop an abduction.

If you believe your child has been abducted, always start by calling the police.

Work With a Child Abduction Attorney 

Dealing with international child abduction situations presents significant challenges for parents and children. Seeking the assistance of a child abduction attorney is a crucial step in ensuring the safe recovery of your child.

Taking swift action is necessary if you ever face a child abduction case. In such situations, partnering with an experienced child abduction attorney is needed. Their experience becomes crucial for initiating a Hague Convention application for scaling a defense against any Hague Convention-related legal actions. 

Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph are highly experienced in handling disputes related to international child abduction, particularly within the jurisdiction of the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system. Voted 2023’s Best Lawyers® in America 2023, Masters Law Group is focused on solving problems and achieving the best possible result for our clients, and more importantly, any children involved. 

Contact us to set up a complimentary consultation today to discuss your situation.