What is the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction?
The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a treaty intended to protect children from international abduction by a parent. The Convention is signed by various countries, including the U.S., and encourages the return of abducted children to their legal parent or guardian. The treaty also helps organize or secure rights of access to a child if they are taken out of their country of habitual residence. The Convention supports the premise that custody and visitation issues should be decided by courts in the country of the child’s legal residence and provides a common remedy among partner countries.
How can I use the Convention if I already have a custody order?
Court orders obtained in the U.S. may not be recognized in other countries that have not signed the Convention. Because each country is a sovereign nation, other countries generally cannot interfere with each other’s legal systems, judiciaries, or law enforcement. However, the Convention provides a uniform method for cooperating countries to work together on international abduction cases.
What types of cases typically fall under the Hague Abduction Convention?
It is important to note that the Convention does not apply to every international parental child abduction case.
In order for your case to qualify for protection under the Convention, you must demonstrate the following:
- Your child was habitually resident in one Convention country, and
- Your child was wrongfully removed to or retained in another Convention country.
- The action surrounding removal of your child was in violation of your custodial rights, and you were exercising them at the time of the removal or retention, or you would have been exercising them but for the removal or retention.
- The Convention must have been signed and in place by the two countries involved in the wrongful removal or retention;
- At the time of filing the application, the child in question is under the age of 16.
What are some exceptions to a country’s obligation to return a child?
Under the Convention, a country may refuse to return an abducted child or grant access to the child if one of the following exceptions apply:
- There is a substantial risk that the child could be exposed to physical or psychological harm;
- The child would be put in an intolerable situation in his or her country of habitual residence;
- The child has reached the age of maturity where the court can rely upon his/her views and the child objects to being returned;
- The child’s return would violate principles of human rights and freedoms of the country where they have been taken.
What countries have signed the Hague Convention?
Some larger countries that have signed and follow the Convention are:
United States, Brazil, Australia, Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Greece, Mexico, New Zealand, Morocco, Italy, Korea, China, Israel, Spain and Thailand
Some countries that have not signed or ratified the Convention are:
Japan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia
For a full list of countries go to the website for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State at www.travel.state.gov.
How can I find out more information about the Hague Convention or file for assistance under the Convention?
If you wish to obtain further information on the Hague Abduction Convention, you should contact an attorney who specializes in international child custody issues. You can also find more information from The Bureau of Consular Affairs with the U.S. Department of State at: www.travel.state.gov/content/childabduction.
About The National Academy for Child Abduction Prevention Associates, LLC:
Founded in 2013 by Roy M. Doppelt, Esq., the National Academy for Child Abduction and Prevention Associates, LLC is an Academy of family law attorneys advocating prevention of child abduction through public education and professional collaboration. We believe that educating the public about kidnapping and its prevention is a paramount duty of attorneys who represent family law clients.