A Chicago Law Firm Handling International Child Abduction

Helping parents across the United States bring their children home

If you are a parent living in the United States whose child has been taken across international boundaries by the other parent, you may feel that you have no options. Even if a custody order from a court in Illinois or another state clearly states you are entitled to custody, you may find it difficult to get the courts of a foreign power to recognize that right. While international law - in the form of treaties like the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction - provides remedies, exercising these rights effectively takes skill and prompt action. With more than 50 years of family law experience, Downs Law Offices is one of the few firms in Chicago that has a history of success with international child abduction cases. We can help you work with the State Department and applicable foreign authorities to locate your child and bring him or her home.

What to do if your child has been removed from the country

The process for bringing home a victim of international child abduction greatly depends on the country to which your child was taken. Signatories to the Hague Convention have already pledged to honor valid child custody rights from other signatory countries, including the United States, and to return wrongfully removed children so that custody disputes can be resolved in their home jurisdictions. Moreover, even parents without a custody order in force can use the Hague Convention so long as they were exercising a “right of custody” over the child. Our international parental abduction lawyers can help you work with the State Department and foreign authorities to promptly initiate Hague proceedings and bring your child home as quickly as possible.

If, however, your child was taken to a non–Hague Convention country - such as Russia or the People’s Republic of China - you may need to deal with that nation’s legal system directly. Our attorneys can help you coordinate with the State Department and work with foreign counsel to fight for your child in the courts of the country to which he or she was taken.

What is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction - also called the Hague Abduction Convention - has been in force in the United States since 1988. Since that time, 70 countries, including Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain, have joined. These 70 countries have pledged to return abducted children to other participating Hague Convention countries so long as they meet certain conditions:

  • The child must have been a habitual resident of the Hague Convention country making the request.
  • The child was under the age of 16 at the time of the request.
  • The child does not object to being returned, provided he or she is of sufficient age and maturity to make such a choice.
  • The child would not face any grave risk of physical or psychological harm in his or her former country.
  • The return would not violate the fundamental principles of human rights as recognized in the country receiving the request.

The procedure for processing and adjudicating these requests differs in every Hague Convention nation. However, we at Downs Law Offices have direct experience dealing with various signatory countries during Hague proceedings. A family attorney from our firm can help you make your case to the appropriate court or authority in the country where your child is located.

Few experiences traumatize a parent more than the abduction of a child. Our international child abduction attorneys know what you are going through. We can give you the strength, support and resources you need to bring your child home.

Decisive action from victims of international child abduction

If your child has been removed from the United States by the other parent, call Downs Law Offices immediately at 312-781-1963 or contact us online. We can act quickly to begin the process of getting your child home safely.