- What happens if a child who lives in the United States is wrongfully removed by a parent, taken to France, and kept there?
- What happens if a child who resides in Portugal comes here to the United States with a parent for vacation and is wrongfully kept here?
What are the rights of a parent left behind?
That is where the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Convention”) comes into play. This treaty, which came into effect in the U.S. in 1998, was created to protect children from abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing procedures to assure their quick return.
Every year there are more and more countries across the world that sign on to the Hague Convention, or “contracting states.” Countries that are part of the Hague Convention have agreed to return any child who is a resident in one Convention country who has been taken to another Convention country in violation of the rights of the parent left behind. Once the child is returned, any custody disputes can be decided in that Convention country’s courts under their jurisdiction. The Hague Convention doesn’t decide who gets custody of a child, but rather where proceedings should be.
What steps need to be taken when a child has been wrongfully removed or retained by an individual across international borders?
- Make sure that the two countries are signatories to the Hague Convention. If they are, don’t wait! File a Hague application as soon as possible after the wrongful removal or retention since delays can adversely affect the outcome of the case.
- Ensure that you have experienced counsel assisting you throughout the process, since Hague Convention matters can be very complicated.