In the not too distant past, if a foreign parent decided to leave the United States unlawfully with his or her child, the local parent would a very difficult — if not impossible — time of getting the child back. These days, the situation is different. We can thank the Hague Convention, an international treaty signed by 79 countries. It establishes guidelines for returning children to their home countries following an unlawful international abduction.
As long as the two countries involved in an international child custody dispute are Hague member nations, the terms of this treaty will apply to the situation. Foreign courts belonging to member nations must honor the child custody orders of the country where the child is considered to be the primary resident.
Here are a few important conditions that will apply to all Hague Convention child custody matters:
- The child needs to be 15 years of age or younger.
- Parents need to prove habitual residency in their country in order to get the child returned.
- The Hague convention must have been in effect in both countries as of the abduction date.
- The parent asking for the return of the child needs to have had custody rights when the abduction occurred.
To have your child taken from you to another country can be harrowing and terrifying. However, if the abduction happened unlawfully in contravention to your existing child custody orders or agreements, it’s likely that the law is on your side. With diligence and care, parents may be able to use the Hague Convention to swiftly get their children back.
Source: state.gov, “Important Features of the Hague Abduction Convention – Why the Hague Convention Matters,” accessed March 15, 2018