How does New York handle international child abduction cases?

Understanding International Child Abduction in New York

International child abduction is a serious issue that can have far-reaching legal and emotional consequences. In New York, as in other parts of the United States, international child abduction cases are handled with the utmost seriousness, combining state, federal, and international law to protect the welfare of children involved.

New York's Legal Framework and The Hague Convention

New York adheres to the provisions of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a multilateral treaty that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another. The United States ratified this convention and enacted the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) to implement its principles.

In New York, state courts and federal courts share concurrent jurisdiction over international child abduction cases. The primary aim is to ensure the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence so that custody disputes can be resolved in an appropriate jurisdiction.

Case Examples and Historical References

One notable case that illustrates New York's approach to international child abduction is Blondin v. Dubois, where a father wrongfully removed his children from France to New York. After protracted litigation, including appeals, the children were returned to France under the Hague Convention provisions.

In another case, Souratgar v. Fair, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit considered a custody dispute involving a child taken from Singapore to New York. The court upheld the decision to return the child to Singapore, reiterating New York's commitment to international treaty obligations.

Procedural Aspects in Handling Cases

When an international child abduction case is brought before a New York court, swift action is required. The petitioner must promptly file a Hague application and serve it upon the abducting parent. The court then assesses whether the child has been wrongfully removed or retained and if any exceptions to return apply under the Convention.

The process involves consideration of various factors including but not limited to: the child's habitual residence prior to removal, consent or acquiescence by the left-behind parent, grave risk of harm if returned, and fundamental principles relating to protection of human rights and freedoms.


New York's courts are dedicated to handling international child abduction cases judiciously and expediently. Through adherence to international agreements like the Hague Convention and cooperation with foreign jurisdictions, New York seeks to serve the best interests of children and uphold justice across borders.