Parental kidnapping or parental abduction is defined as the concealment, taking, or retention of a child by his parent in violation of the rights of the child’s other parent or another family member.
Thousands of children are abducted by a parent and removed from the United States annually. Parental kidnapping also happens when a child is abducted from a custodial parent abroad and transported into the United States by the non-custodial parent illegally.
Take for example the story of Michel and Edmond Navratil.
On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg. On the ship were two boys, Michel and Edmond (ages 4 and 2), along with their father. Their father placed the boys in the last lifeboat knowing that he would not be on it. He did not survive. The boys were two of the 700 rescued. One month later, after countless newspaper articles about the boys, their mother, Marcelle, was found. Their father had secretly taken the boys aboard the Titanic so that they could start a new life in America without Marcelle. Marcelle and her husband separated in early 1912, and she was awarded full custody of the children. She decided the boys could spend Easter with their father, and he instead, decided to emigrate to the US, violating the custody agreement.
What can begin as a custody dispute or a violation of the custody agreement, can grow into something more tragic, abduction. Taking a child from his custodial parent is kidnapping and a federal crime.
Enacted in 1980, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, a federal law, prevents an abducting parent from ever obtaining legal custody in another state where the court might be unaware that the child has been kidnapped.
Also enacted in 1980, was the Hague Convention.
The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty, which seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return.
Custody and kidnapping are complicated, and it is important to hire an experienced attorney to help with your case.