Friday, March 17, 2023

Algeria and International Child Abduction

 Jeremy D. Morley

My expert evidence on the international family law aspects of the laws and procedures of Algeria has resulted in a highly favorable settlement for a parent who feared that the parties’ children might be taken out of the United States to Algeria. I explained that. in my opinion. if the other parent were to take the children to Algeria  and keep them there, then, notwithstanding the issuance of orders requiring the return of the children by the U.S. courts, it would be exceedingly difficult and probably impossible for the left-behind parent to secure the children’ s return home to the United States. I explained in detail the likely outcome of potential litigation in Algeria, and discussed the potential measures to prevent abduction out of the United States. 

In my opinion, when the country in question is a well- recognized safe haven for international child abduction, far less evidence that any specific parent is a potential international child abductor should be  required in order to justify –  and indeed to require –  that a court should take effective steps to prevent a potential child abduction than if the country in question is a compliant party to the Hague Abduction Convention. However, without expert evidence, there is no way for a court in the United States to make the necessary findings concerning the laws and practices of the foreign jurisdiction. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Preventing International Child Abduction: The U.S. National Targeting Center

 by Jeremy D. Morley


The National Targeting Center in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency provides invaluable assistance in identifying parents and children about to leave the country in violation of U.S. court orders, provided the process is properly initiated.

Any parent who has obtained a valid and enforceable order from any court in the United States that bars the other parent or another specified person from removing the child from the United States can ask the Abduction Prevention Unit of the Office of Children's Issues of the U.S. State Department to place the identified parent (or other prohibited person) and the child on the prevent departure list maintained by the Office. The Office will need the actual court order and other identifying information, including dates of birth, and it will then coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Custom and Border Prevention (the “CBP.)

The National Targeting Center (the “NTC”) is the unit of the CBP which analyzes traveler data and threat information to identify high-risk travelers before they board US-bound flights.

CBP creates travel alerts for identified and listed  children who are at risk of international abduction and any potential abductors. Commercial carriers are required to transmit data on all outgoing and incoming travelers to CBP, which the NTC continuously monitors in real-time through an electronic data interchange system known as the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), and it vets that information against the travel alerts. It then works with CBP officers and with local law enforcement to intercept the child before departure and to enforce the applicable valid court orders.

Counsel who are retained by parents to take measures to prevent their children from being abducted from the United States should normally use their best efforts to obtain enforceable and comprehensive court orders to prevent any such abduction. That will generally require counsel to consult with, and then to present evidence from, experts knowledgeable as to (a) the extent to which the specific country to which the child may be abducted is or is not likely to expeditiously return an internationally-abducted child, and (b) the risk factors of potential international child abduction. Once a court order is obtained, it is then incumbent on counsel to present the order and other required information to the State Department and to secure the requisite information concerning the child and the potential abductors to be included in the Prevent Abduction Program list so that a travel alert is promptly issued by the CBP.

Note, however, that such a listing is only one of the methods that should be employed in any effort to prevent international child abduction. The United States has no exit controls, and travel by public carrier is only one way for a child to be taken out of the country.