Background

Why does this happen? 

Presently, existing judicial systems in each country are primarily focused on domestic cases within their sovereign nation.  However they understand little about ensuring balance to a child’s multicultural heritage, as this brings international jurisdictional issues and international child custody issue to the forefront.  Additionally, very few Family courts are willing to provide full-faith-and-credit to the courts of another nation.  They are either not empowered to do so nor does the nation understand the foreign court system enough to provide full faith.  This perpetuates international travel leading to issues of child abduction by parents, family, or friends.

What has been done? 

The Hague Convention is supposed to address the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  It is an international human rights treaty and legal mechanism to recover children abducted to another country.  However in practice, the purpose of the Hague Convention on International Child abduction is to determine which court has jurisdiction.  When lawyers argue on the basis of The Hague Convention, they are unsuccessful in far too many cases.  This is why some parents hire private parties to recover their children.

Covert recovery was first made public when Don Feeney, a former Delta Commando, responded to a desperate mother’s plea to locate and recover her daughter from Jordan in the 1980s. Feeney successfully located and returned the child. A movie and book about Feeney’s exploits lead to other desperate parents seeking him out for recovery services.

By 2007, the United States, European authorities, and non-government organizations (NGOs) began exploring the use of mediation as a means by which some international child abduction cases, as part of family disputes, may be resolved. Development of mediation was successful, by REUNITE, a London-based NGO which provides support in international child abduction cases.  In 2008, this success lead to the first international training for cross-border mediation, sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Held at the University of Miami School of Law, Lawyers, Judges, and certified mediators interested in international child abduction cases, attended.