According to Children at Risk statistics, Texas statistics regarding child trafficking are alarming. The shared border with Mexico, the numerous interstate highways and sexually oriented businesses, and other similar factors make Texas the leading state in human labor and sex trafficking.
For instance, only in the last months of 2007, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 25% of international victims were in Texas while 30% of the calls made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline were out of Texas. (Source: Children at risk)
FBI numbers show that in the U.S., every 40 seconds a child is abducted or goes missing. This totals 765,000 children each year. (Source: FBI)
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) statistics show that annually, family members kidnap over 200,000 children. (Info Source: FBI)
Parental kidnapping and The Hague Convention
International abduction refers to a child’s illegal removal from the U.S., or illicit retention in a foreign country, by a parent or a close relative. It’s also known as “parental kidnapping.”
The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 has designed and adopted a mechanism for the safe return of the children under 16 years of age who have been abducted.
It’s applicable for all countries that signed the Convention and it includes a few steps, starting with:
- Filling a Hague Application (it’s useful to seek an experienced attorney’s assistance);
- Submitting it to the Central Authority of the child’s country of residence, together with all supporting documents.
For instance, the Central Authority in the U.S. is the Office of Children’s Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State in Washington, D.C.
This institution will send it further to the Central Authority belonging to the country where the missing child was found.
Based on The Hague Convention, if there’s evidence of an illegal retention, that country has the duty to send the child back to his home residence.
Using our years of comprehensive experience in successfully dealing with family abduction cases, we’ve put together a list with cautionary steps:
- Be sure to have the custody situation transmitted to any care providers, medical, or educational institutions which are part of your child’s routine;
- Since anger and revenge towards the other parent are frequently cited as being leading causes to family abduction, don’t disregard the other spouse’s visitation or custody rights;
- Contact the U.S. Department of State at www.travel.state.gov and make sure you’ll be notified whenever someone attempts to leave the country with your child;
- As hard as it may be in some cases, it’s highly recommended to keep an amiable relationship with the other parent;
- Have your child’s photos taken at least every 6 months, and make sure to have a document with key personal identifying information regarding both the non-custodial parent and your child;
- Make sure the custody order has abduction prevention measures, such as having the parent’s passport held by the county clerk’s office while visits take place;
- Keep a written record of kidnapping threats you’ve received and report them to the court and to your attorney.
Texas law and the risk of international abduction
Under Texas law, it’s possible for a court to determine if there’s a risk of international abduction, considering specific factors and proofs involving the suspected parent, such as:
- The non-custodial parent has threatened to kidnap the child;
- He/she carries on actions that hint towards/facilitate the abduction of a child. For instance quitting a job, closing bank accounts, applying to get copies of the child’s medical or school records, selling the properties he/she owns, including their home, etc.
- The other spouse has no financial reasons to remain in US;
- The non-custodial parent has a proven track record of not respecting court orders;
- A history of violating the custody rights by concealing the child or keeping him away from the custodial parent (unless the there’s proof showing that action was meant to keep the child away from imminent dangers).
Skillful lawyers are ready to solve your international abduction case
If your child has been a victim of international abduction, you need strong legal and personal support. The Dieye Firm has solved complex cases of child abduction and is ready to help clients based in Houston, Brazoria County, Galveston, Fort Bend, or Harris to get their child back home safely.
We’re experts in close collaborations with attorneys from other countries in solving these cases, so you can rely on our valuable legal advice and our practical experience. We have in-depth knowledge of the main regulations concerning international abductions:
- The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA);
- The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction;
- Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP).
Contact our office today and make an appointment for an initial free-of-charge international abduction consultation.