The last time Gustavo Vazquez saw his two daughters was when they left a Chuck E. Cheese in Mexico City.
That was almost three years ago, and in a lawsuit filed recently in Kansas City, he alleges the girls were taken from Mexico unlawfully by their mother, who now lives in Independence.
Vazquez, a citizen of Mexico, alleges in the suit that the woman, Tara Lawson, is violating the international child abduction act known as the Hague Convention.
He is seeking the return of the girls, now seven and three, to Mexico, where child custody issues can be determined by a Mexican court.
A federal judge in Kansas City has set a May 17 hearing in the case. Lawson is ordered to appear at the hearing with the girls.
The judge's order warns that if she or anyone else takes the children from the court's jurisdiction in western Missouri, "severe sanctions may be imposed."
Lawson did not respond to email and Facebook messages seeking comment.
She was the victim in a Johnson County domestic battery case filed against Vazquez in 2013.
He pleaded guilty in 2014 and was sentenced to serve one day in jail, according to court records.
But according to the new lawsuit filed by Vazquez in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, they were living together in Mexico later that year when their youngest daughter was born.
The oldest girl was born in 2010 in Kansas City, Kan., according to the suit.
Vazquez, Lawson and their daughters lived in Mexico until November 2015, when they went to the Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate the younger girl's birthday, according to the suit.
He then went to work while Lawson and the girls went home.
Vazquez stayed overnight two nights for work; when he returned home, Lawson and the girls had moved out.
He filed a missing person report and a few days later, he saw that Lawson had written a Facebook post about being back in the United States.
The suit alleges that the girls were abducted without his permission.
Vazquez is in Mexico, according to the court documents. His attorney did not respond for requests for comment.