Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions, also known as the Hague Abduction Convention, is a multi-lateral treaty developed by the Hague Convention on Private International Law.

The primary goal of the Convention is to retain the welfare of a child’s custody agreement internationally between parties to prevent or intervene in the wrongful removal of a child from his/her habitual residence. (According to Wikipedia, a habitual residence is the “…residence where the individual usually resides and routinely returns to after visiting other places. It is the geographical place considered ‘home’ for a reasonably significant period of time.”)  The treaty provides for the return for the child to his/her habitual residence.

As of July of 2019, over 100 countries have signed on to the Hague Abduction Convention.

The convention provides that “… a. It is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or alone, under the law of the [Country] in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention; and b. at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention.”

There are limited defenses to the Hague Abduction Convention treaty including:

(a) that the person requesting the return of the child was not “actually exercising custody’ at the time of the removal or retention” under Article 3 [of the treaty]; or

(b) that the person requesting the return of the child “had consented to or acquiesced in the removal or retention” under Article 13 [of the treaty]; or

(c) that more than one year has passed from the time of wrongful removal or retention until the date of the commencement of judicial or administrative proceedings, under Article 12 [of the treaty]; or

(d) that the child is old enough and has a sufficient degree of maturity to knowingly object to the person requesting the return of the child, and that it is appropriate to heed that objection, under Article 13 [of the treaty]; or

(e) that “there is grave risk that the child's return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation,” under Article 13(b); or

(f) that return of the child would subject the child to violation of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms Article 20 [of the treaty].

Attempting to have a child returned that has been abducted to another country (even from another country to one of the United States), can very complicated.  It is best to find an attorney who is qualified in this area of international family law to assist in the return of the child or in the prevention of that child’s return to the country of abduction.

Next Week ICARA

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