International child abduction lawyer | U.S. Parental Abduction Attorney

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The threat or reality of international child abduction is one of the most stressful and frightening concerns that a parent can face. It’s a particularly complex legal issue as well, given the range of potential countries and bodies of law involved. Many potential legal approaches can be taken to resolve these instances of kidnapping and wrongful retention, but it’s critical that you have an experienced international child abduction lawyer on your side.

At Schaffer Family Law, Ltd., our experience in helping parents with international child abduction cases is extensive and benefits our current and future clients. Experience is key and one procedural mistake or timeline missed could prove quite destructive to your case. We have hands-on experience in working to prevent these abductions from taking place and fighting to return children who have been kidnapped by one parent and taken to another country.

We also have experience with helping parents who have been served with a Hague Convention petition or other action seeking return of a child presently in their possession. We are prepared to handle the complexities of these situations and find the legal path that can hopefully reunite you with your child, or keep your child in the United States when legally appropriate.

If you’ve been accused of international child abduction, we can also defend you and your rights to your child. With such serious accusations, you’ll need a lawyer with significant talent, skill, and experience.

What to Expect From a U.S. Parental Abduction Attorney

At Schaffer Family Law, Ltd., we believe that it’s important for you to have high standards when deciding who should represent you, given the high stakes present in your effort to ensure that your child is safely in your custody. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your lawyer, as your needs, interests, and emotions should be respected during this difficult time. When searching for the ideal attorney for your child abduction case, consider the following traits:


One important trait you should expect from your lawyer is good communication. Child abduction is a particularly complex and difficult part of law to navigate. However, as the parent of the child involved, you deserve to know where things stand and how the situation is being addressed. Your lawyer should be sure to keep you well-informed and help you understand the current status of your case, as well as with the complicated laws at hand.


While your lawyer acts as your representative, there may be times during the case when you will need to decide amongst different options. In these situations, your lawyer can offer their advice by helping you understand the choice you may need to make and the potential implications of your options. It’s important, then, that you have a lawyer from whom you are comfortable taking advice.


While it’s important that a lawyer has a strong academic background, experience is of the utmost importance. It’s vital to see the law put into practice and understand how the courts will interpret legislation. Having experience working with Judges and the courts can also be critical, as it allows attorneys to understand how to create an argument that a Judge will respect.

Furthermore, international child abduction is an uncommon, niche area of the law. Lawyers without experience with these types of cases may be less effective or outright dangerous to a desired outcome. Schaffer Family Law, Ltd. is often brought in as co-counsel by other family law attorneys who realize this.


Perhaps the most important thing that your attorney will do is develop and execute a strategy to address your case. This is particularly important in cases of international abduction, where there are a number of options available to you. For instance, the Hague Convention is designed to help address child abduction cases that emerge between parents living in signatory countries. However, that does not necessarily mean that filing a Hague Convention petition is the wisest option, and in fact, it often is not.

The right strategy can vary depending on a variety of factors related to your case. At Schaffer Family Law, Ltd., we rely heavily on our experience in facing similar situations, and we consider the approaches that have proven successful for ourselves and others in the past. At the same time, though, we remain aware of the current legal landscape to ensure that any strategy we recommend is not outdated and is consistent with the latest approach to the law.


One of the most critical characteristics of a lawyer is a strong sense of ethics. There are many ways that a lawyer could engage in misconduct, such as through a breach of trust, dishonesty, or interfering with the administration of justice. Certain lawyers could also engage in harassment or discrimination.

At Schaffer Family Law, Ltd., we believe in the importance of confronting each case directly and ethically. It is crucial to show the Judge and court due respect and handle the circumstances with the highest integrity. However, we also work tirelessly to protect your interests and pursue your objectives.


Working with a lawyer who has a strong reputation can be immensely beneficial. You can learn a lot about a lawyer’s approach, abilities, and reliability based on what former clients, colleagues, and their peers have to say about their experience with them. Additionally, certain third-party groups create an assessment of a lawyer’s abilities, such as Martindale-Hubbell ratings.

We are proud of our reputation at Schaffer Family Law, Ltd., particularly in the area of international custody issues. David N. Schaffer has received an award of merit from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for his commitment to the protection of children. He is also named on the referral list from the U.S. State Department for Hague Convention issues.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is an international treaty that the United States entered into in 1980. It was designed to address the reality that other nations are not bound by United States laws regarding the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, nor was the United States bound by other nations’ laws regarding these issues. The treaty creates some coordination between signatory nations regarding how to address situations that arise when a custody order in one signatory nation is violated in another.

While the Hague Convention does provide some means of addressing international child abductions, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is always the right route to take. There could be several reasons for this, but a common issue has to do with the defenses to wrongful retention or removal that are allowed under the Convention.

One of these defenses is that the child may not be returned if there is a “grave risk” to them in returning. If the court, under the Hague Convention rules, believes the child is at grave risk of physical or psychological harm if they go back to their other parent, they may rule against them being returned.

While this is a well-intentioned inclusion, it has led to the custodial parent being wrongly accused of domestic abuse to claim there is a grave risk. Unfortunately, this has been successful in some cases where a foreign court may not have required extensive proof of abuse.

Invoking the Hague Convention may be the most effective option in some situations, but this is not always the case. Even with other signatory nations, there may be a better option or pathway to getting your child back, and you should count on your lawyer to explore those options before advising you on what path to take.

Cases Involving Non-Hague Convention Signatory Nations

Abduction cases that don’t involve another Hague Convention signatory nation can be even more complex, and the ideal solution will often be highly dependent on the situation. Most importantly, it will depend on the other countries involved.

In some circumstances, there may be an agreement in place that can be relied upon to provide guidance or even explicit rules regarding how these cases should be handled. There is also a possibility of relying on common law.

An experienced lawyer is absolutely vital to anyone faced with a non-Hague Convention signatory nation child abduction. These situations are incredibly complex, and working with someone who knows how to identify the appropriate and effective means of addressing the situation is imperative.

Our Experience May Be the Difference in Helping Your Child

International child abductions are some of the most complicated and challenging legal cases. Even establishing what aspects of the law are relevant can be particularly difficult, in addition to arguing on the basis of those laws. This means that if you are faced with an international child abduction, it’s critical that you work with a lawyer who understands the complexities of these cases, preferably from experience.

At the Schaffer Law Firm, Ltd., we have experience you can rely on. We also treat our clients with the care and attention that you won’t always find with big firms. We recognize just how important your child is to you, and we dedicate ourselves to the effort to get them back with respect for just how sensitive and difficult these situations are for our clients.

With what’s at stake in these cases, we believe it’s imperative that we have a thorough strategy in place on your behalf that targets the most efficient and effective legal means of protecting your child. We believe the strategy must fit the specifics of your case and are willing to take whatever legal approach appears to be the strongest option. If you’re looking for this kind of flexibility, caring, dedication, and experience in your lawyer, contact our offices today.

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