International child abduction

The term international child abduction is generally synonymous with international parental kidnapping, child snatching, and child stealing.[1] However, the more precise legal usage of international child abduction originates in private international law and refers to the illegal removal of children from their home by an acquaintance or family member to a foreign country. In this context, "illegal" is normally taken to mean "in breach of custodial rights" and "home" is defined as the child's habitual residence. As implied by the "breach of custodial rights," the phenomenon of international child abduction generally involves an illegal removal that creates a jurisdictional conflict of laws whereby multiple authorities and jurisdictions could conceivably arrive at seemingly reasonable and conflicting custodial decisions with geographically limited application. Such a result often strongly affects a child's access and connection to half their family and may cause the loss of their former language, culture, name and nationality, it violates numerous children's rights, and can cause severe psychological and emotional trauma to the child and family left behind.[2]

There is a common misconception that because the abductor in these cases is usually not a stranger the children are not in danger.[3] The harmful consequences for children and families have been shown in several studies and child abduction has been characterized as a form of parental alienation and child abuse.[4] Adding international dimensions to the detrimental effects of child abduction significantly increases the detrimental effects on children and families. The modern day ease of international travel and corollary increase in international marriages is leading to a rapid rise in the number of international child abductions.[2]