California parents are not allowed to remove a child from the United States in an effort to restrict another parent's rights. Parents are also not allowed to detain a child in another country to interfere with another parent's right to their child. Those who take such actions may be guilty of international parental kidnapping, and they could face up to three years in prison.
If the other county recognizes the Hague Convention, its terms may determine how and when a child is returned to the United States. However, it often takes negotiation and diplomacy to return a child back home to his or her mother or father. While parents may choose to recover their children by themselves, doing so could result in being taken into custody and imprisoned in a foreign nation.
In many cases, a kidnapping occurs during an heated dispute between two parents. The result is often a child who is taken from familiar surroundings and isolated from family members and friends. It is possible that the child's name or physical features may be changed or altered to keep his or her whereabouts a secret from the other parent. Parents may also take their children to multiple countries while on the run, which may make it difficult for the other parent to find them.
In many divorce cases, both a mother and father will be granted parental rights to a child. Therefore, both have the ability to see and interact with the child as per a court order. If a child is removed from the country, it could be worthwhile for a parent to talk with an attorney who may be able to coordinate with federal authorities to facilitate the child's safe return to the United States.