United States Parental Child Abduction

The United States of America are to be applauded for their efforts to stop IPCA but yet it still isn’t enough.

The USA takes a strong lead at preventing abductions with the Department of State enrolling 4,064 children in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program in 2015. Over 1,560 enquiries were made in one year from parents, attorneys, support organizations and foreign governments seeking prevention information.

With the USA being a signatory to the Hague Convention they actively encourage non signatory countries to sign and enforce the treaty. Along with the creation of working groups and partnering with major airlines they play a very proactive role in stopping children becoming victim to IPCA.


The USA has now taken a new angle to tackle IPCA that is not focused on prevention. The focus is now firmly on the countries that refuses to cooperate and comply with USA court orders.

Legislation was introduced to Congress that will remove tariff benefits for countries found to be non-compliant in returning American children abducted and taken to another country by one parent without the consent of the other.

The “Bindu Phillips and Devon Davenport International Child Abduction Return Act of 2017” is named after two parents whose children were abducted to India and Brazil respectively and they have not been handed back to the custodial parent despite US court orders.

This draft legislation, if passed, will impose economic impact to countries that violate US court orders to return children.

In 2016 639 American Children were abducted from the USA by one parent in direct violation of valid US court orders. These abductions were also in contravention of the Hague Convention.

The rate of return of children that have been abducted from the USA is a paltry 16 per cent. Abductors are taking full advantage of their chosen countries inability to cooperate with the US Government and noncompliance of the valid court orders held in the USA.

For countries such as India this could have a significant impact to their economy. At CARI alone, we are blown away with the amount of India/USA enquiries we regularly receive. India has a long history of indifference and noncompliance for any matters regarding IPCA. India refuse to even use the term “Abduction” when discussing IPCA.

Will this measure be enough for non-compliant countries to stand up and take notice? Will these countries respect the habitual residence and custodial parent of the child?

The prevention measure may be helping but with over 600 new cases of IPCA in a year it’s not enough. We know from experience that Abductors do not make a rash decision to take their child to another country. It is a long calculated process, they have researched and they have prepared. They know how to exploit the system in their chosen country so that it works to their advantage.

The Hague Convention, as we have stated many times, has its faults and Abductors are well versed on how to capitalise on the many loopholes of the convention. There are only two ways that a child will ever be returned from a country.

1.       The parents come to an agreement and the child is returned home – extremely rare

2.       Both countries have a strong partnership and use the full extent of their resources to locate and return the child – again extremely rare

The steps the USA are taking with this proposed legislation is promising but it won’t be enough. Until every single country gets on board, they are all on the same page of the seriousness of IPCA and they are throw all resources into returning the child it won’t change.

That’s why parents turn to us, no one else – a last resort but the most effective! Just ask over 200 clients we have recovered children for.

CARI will continue to bring honest and straight forward blogs on other countries. At CARI we tell you the reality not some pre-script blog from a government or one of their NGO’s.




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