Seeking the return of a child after they are abducted to another country fosters the rapid return of abducted children to their home country and promotes access rights to children.
Child abduction is among the most serious international custody issues. The Hague Convention is a treaty joined by the United States and many other countries, which addresses this issue. It is intended to assure that the proper court of the child’s habitual residence decides custody and visitation issues. Nations that are parties to the treaty agreed to promote parental access and visitation rights.
Parents may need to utilize the convention even if they have a custody order. Other countries may not recognize American court orders. Sovereign nations cannot interfere with the legal systems or law enforcement of other countries.
The treaty’s significant terms include:
- Treaty nations must have a central authority, which is the main contact point for parents and governments in abduction cases.
- Central authorities are responsible for helping to locate abducted children, encourage solutions to abduction cases and help expedite the safe return of children.
- Documents submitted to the central authority in applications are admissible in courts in member nations without the usual judicial formalities involving documents from foreign countries.
- A custody order may not be required to prove violations of parental custody rights when the child was taken from their country because the treaty allows proof from the child’s habitual residence, such as proof of parenthood or marriage.
- Determining whether a child should return to their regular residence or whether access or visitation rights do not depend on the child or their parents’ nationality or immigration status.
Parents must show the following to obtain their child’s return:
- That the child was a resident in one country and was wrongly removed to or retained in another nation.
- The child’s removal or retention violates a parent’s custodial rights, and the parent exercised those rights when the child was removed or retained, or the parent would have exercised them.
- The Convention was in effect between the two nations when the wrongful removal or retention occurred.
- The child is under 16.
Courts may deny the child’s return under certain conditions. These include a serious risk that the child’s return exposes them to potential harm, both psychological and physical, a court considered the child’s objections because of their age and maturity or because return would violate fundamental human rights in the country where the child is held.
Attorneys can assist parents in dealing with these issues. They can help them undergo the procedural requirements in these custody matters.