International Parental Child Abduction

Both the United States and Spain are parties to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Andorra acceded to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction on April 6, 2011.  The Convention entered into force between the United States and Andorra on January 1, 2017.

The main purpose of this multilateral treaty is to discourage and prevent international parental child abduction, and to ensure that children who are abducted or wrongfully retained, are returned to their country of habitual residence.

If parents cannot work out an amicable settlement of a child custody dispute, the only recourse may be a court action in the country where the child is located.

Traditionally, the legal framework to which most countries adhere is that the presence of a child within a particular country renders its courts competent to determine who should have custody of the child.

Although U.S. consular officers can provide lists of attorneys in their consular districts, they cannot recommend any particular attorney, offer legal advice, represent U.S. citizens in custody or other hearing before foreign courts, or attempt to influence the outcome of those hearings.

Consular officers have no legal authority to obtain physical custody of children and return them to the United States.  They cannot assist a parent in acquiring physical custody of a child illegally or by force or deception, officers cannot help a parent to leave a foreign country with a child whose custody is disputed if the departure would violate a court order or the laws of the foreign country.