Foreign Affairs:

Status of U.S. Parental Child Abductions to Germany, Sweden, and Austria

NSIAD-00-226BR: Published: Sep 8, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 2000.

Additional Materials:


Benjamin F. Nelson
(202) 512-3000


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed international parental child abduction issues, focusing on German, Swedish, and Austrian handling of U.S. cases.

GAO noted that: (1) from January 1995 through May 15, 2000, left-behind parents in the United States initiated 298 cases under the Hague Convention indicating that the child had been taken to, or retained in Germany, Sweden, and Austria by the other parent; (2) the Department of State closed 227 of these cases, and 71 cases remain open; (3) in 97 of the closed cases (43 percent), the child was returned or the left-behind parent was granted visitation rights; (4) nearly 90 percent of both opened and closed cases involved abductions to, or retentions in, Germany; (5) various reasons were cited for the 130 closed cases in which the children have not been returned or visitation was not granted; (6) in 49 cases, left-behind parents withdrew or did not actively pursue their applications; (7) in 16 cases, children were not returned because German courts concluded that the left-behind parent did not possess custody rights or subsequently acquiesced to the removal; and (8) in 17 cases, children were not returned because German courts ruled that the child's mental or physical well-being would be at risk.

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