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What should I do if my child was taken to a foreign country?

International marriages are more common than ever, and that means that international divorces are also on the rise. These situations get particularly complicated when children are involved -- especially if the foreign spouse decides to take the child outside of the United States and back to his or her home country.

Sometimes, the foreign parent will simply ask to take the child home to his or her country for a short vacation or trip -- but the short trip turns into a permanent stay. Other times, the foreign parent will travel with the child back to his or her country without the other parent's permission. If this has happened to you, and you can't get your child back, there are a few things you will have to do to try and get your child returned:

Learn about the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is a treaty that establishes international child custody laws that protect children from international child abductions. Not all countries in the world have signed this accord, so you'll need to check to see if your child has been taken to a Hague Convention nation, and then proceed accordingly. The Hague Convention offers rules and guidelines that require member countries to honor the previous family law court rulings of the original country.

Utilize the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act

The state of Florida and many other states have adopted this act, which offers different protections regarding parental abduction. Filing a UCAPA petition will place restrictions on the other parent's freedom to exit the country with your children.

Stay in touch with your children

Keep in contact with your kids in whatever way you're able. Send them pictures, money and letters on a regular basis. Do video calls with your kids. Whatever you can do to keep your connection and bond with your children strong through this time will be important.

Consider moving

It could help you to move to the foreign country so you can be close to your children, and so you can better navigate the foreign court system in person.

If your children were taken away from you to another country, it's important to act quickly and according to the law. The more you know about international child abduction, international child custody law and the court system of the country where your children are located, the better off you and your children will be.

Source: The Spruce, "How to Resolve an International Child Custody Dispute," Debrina Washington, accessed Dec. 11, 2017

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