An approach to international child abduction

The cases of international child abduction that have been in the spotlight in recent months reveal an intrinsic complexity which makes it worthwhile to review some key legal aspects in this regard, especially in a globalized society in which migratory movements and marriages between people of different nationalities are becoming increasingly common.

First of all, we must remember when we can speak in these terms. International abduction is considered to be those cases in which a child under 16 years of age is moved to a country other than their country of residence, or is retained in said country by one of their parents without the consent of the other and without court approval. A move with such characteristics is classified as a crime in article 225 bis of the Spanish Criminal Code, as an aggravated form of child abduction. The penalties provided are 3-4 years in prison and the suspension of parental authority for 7-10 years.
 

Prevention and action in international child abduction cases

 
In turn, Article 158 of the Spanish Civil Code includes a series of preventive measures that can be requested of the courts in those cases where there is considered to be a risk of abduction, i.e. when one of the parents has a well-founded fear that the other parent is going to abduct or retain the child. These include a ban on leaving Spain and a ban on issuing the child a passport (or its revocation in the event that it has already been issued), as well as subjecting any change of address to court approval. These measures must be filed by a court representative, with the assistance of an attorney.
 
But what action can you take when the abduction may have occurred? It should be recalled that the 1980 Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to which Spain is a party, is in force in over 90 countries. This international instrument establishes a system to initiate the return of the child to their custodial parent. If, on the other hand, the country in question is not a signatory to the Convention, it will be necessary to litigate directly before its own institutions. In both cases, the involvement of an attorney specializing in international family law is crucial for the successful resolution of the case.
 
ICN LEGAL’s experience in the field of international family law, one of our key specialties, enables us to offer detailed and quality legal assistance to people who have been affected by the abduction of their children or their retention in a foreign country.

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