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Texas Vulnerable to International Parental Kidnapping

For many parents, their worst nightmare is discovering that someone has kidnapped their child. We generally assume that a kidnapper is a stranger, but in fact, most of these cases involve a parent disappearing with a child during a custody dispute or after a divorce. Tracking down a missing child in the United States is difficult enough, but when a kidnapper takes a child out of the country, the problem gets much tougher.

How serious is the problem? In 2010, an estimated 1,500 children were taken out of the country illegally, and less than half eventually were returned. In one-third of these cases, the destination country was Mexico. Many of the parents fled the country at a time when they had court-ordered visitation or custody with the approval of the authorities at the airport or border crossing.

Abducting a minor out of Texas to another state or country without the permission of the family court in charge of the child custody agreement violates several international, federal and state laws:

  • The Hague Convention on Child Abduction — An agreement by 71 countries, including Mexico, to cooperate in returning abducted minors to their country of habitual residence
  • Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act — Offers preventative measures to parents who fear that their children might be abducted nationally or internationally (Texas is not a signatory)
  • Texas Statute 25.03: Interference With Child Custody — Makes kidnapping of minor a state jail felony

Parents who illegally take a child out of the country often do so because they do not think they will get a fair outcome in a child custody hearing or because they disagree with the result of the hearing. Others may flee if they believe someone is abusing their child. Before you take this desperate step, speak with a qualified family law attorney about the legal options available to you.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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