Kentucky parents are prohibited by federal law from moving their children out of the United States for the purpose of interfering with the other parent’s custody rights. A person who violates this law may be charged with international parental kidnapping face up to three years in federal prison.

Unfortunately, many such kidnapping cases occur every year, usually after a marital dispute or child custody battle. Being moved unexpectedly to another country can be very damaging to a child’s long-term psychological health. Children can feel suddenly isolated from their community and family when they are removed from their home and taken to an unfamiliar environment.

When a kidnapping crime occurs, federal prosecutors will investigate and prosecute the parent who committed the act; however, the return of children is handled by the U.S. Department of State. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction was established in 1980 to facilitate the safe return of children who are taken by parents to foreign countries. Parents who are in this situation should contact federal authorities and resist the temptation to take measures on their own hands.

Parents who have questions about their child custody rights under state and federal law may wish to consult a divorce attorney. If a parent has reason to believe that their ex is about to permanently move out of the country with a minor child, it may be possible in to take steps to prevent this from happening. When a child is taken from one state to another state, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act may apply. If a custody order was issued in one state, that state has continuing jurisdiction over the case unless it was transferred to another court.

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