International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act: How it works?

International Parental Kidnapping Crime
International Parental Kidnapping Crime

Kidnaping a child from its parents is a heinous crime, and every country and Law treat this as a grave offence and punishable by imprisonment. Law enforcement agencies take strict and prompt action against this atrocious act.

The United States approved a law in 1993 against International Kidnapping by parents. It prevents removing any child from the United States or retaining a child outside the US to obstruct the custodial rights of the other parents. This Law is well known as the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act 1993.

International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act: Examples and Explanations

The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) 1993 is aligned with the Hague Convention on The Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980. The IPKCA is a Federal law that applies to all the states of the US.

Explanations of International Parental Child Abduction Act

There are a few terms to help you understand how the IPKCA 1993 works.

1.    Child

Any person who has not attained the biological age of 16 years is a child under this Law. The Law will not be implied on any kidnapping or abduction victim of 16 years or more.

2.    Parental Rights

The parental right indicates the right to physical custody of the children. The right can be exercised by both solos or uniform child custody jurisdiction.

Any kind of parental agreement under any law or court will be counted as Parental Right under the IPKCA 1993.

3.    What the Law says

According to the IPKCA 1993, removing any child from the US or retaining any child out of the US with an intention to obstruct the Parental Rights is a Federal Offense.

If any parent does so with the intent to obstruct the lawful Parental RIghts of the other parent, the defendant will be fined under this title. The defendant can be imprisoned for more than 3-years.

4.    Extradition

If a parent kidnaps a child from the US to obstruct another parent’s right Federal Government can initiate legal actions. When the defendant parent surrender to the law enforcement agency of another country, the process is called extradition.

5.    Return of the Kidnapped Child to the US

The defendant is eligible for extradition as he/she is charged with Federal Crime. However, the return of the kidnapped child is not regulated by the IPKCA 1993. The Federal Government has no authority over the return of the child or its custodial rights.

The US Department of State handles the return of the abducted child through negotiation with foreign law enforcement agencies. In a few instances, the return may be conducted under the Hague Convention on The Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980.

However, this convention only applies to the countries that are the signatories to the convention. The US is one of the signatories.

Examples of International Parental Child Abduction Act Cases

Case of Billy Hanson: Kidnapped and Moved 5500 Miles Away

9-year old Billy Hanson was kidnapped by his father, Jeff Hanson. Both of them were in Seattle, WA, for a boat ride. However, this fun ride becomes a traumatic journey for the 9-year old, where he has to travel 5500-miles of open sea with literally no food.

Upon the complaint of Billy’s mother, Johanna, the FBI started the investigation and found the father-son duo in an island nation named Niue in the South Pacific. The island is located north-east of New Zealand.

Later, with the help of Niue Police, New Zealand Customs, and New Zealand Police, Billy was able to join his mother. Jeff appeared in Federal Court and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to seven months in prison under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act 1993.

International Parental Kidnapping and Abduction Statistics

  • Total number of kidnapping and abduction has increased by 47% in the last 10-years
  • In 7 out of 10 cases, the mother abducts the child. However, 74% of the parents believe it will be the father to abduct the child.
  • Mexico, by far, is the most popular destination for the kidnapping by the parents
  • In 33% of the cases, the child return voluntarily from one parent to another
  • Due to the strict implication of IPKCA1993, international child abduction from the US has been reduced by 38%
  • Average litigation time for an international child abduction case in the US is 338-days


Thanks to the introduction of the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act that has lowered the rate of international child abduction and kidnapping.

However, there is a long way to cover as many countries have not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980. It will ensure the safe passage of the kidnapped child to return to their parents back home.


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