Although summer has come to a close, lots of families continue to hit the roads (and even the seas and air) on vacation over long weekends, holidays and school vacations. Most divorced families agree upon a parenting plan which provides for each parent to have regular parenting time, as well as holiday, school vacation and summer parenting time. For most families, transitions will be routine. But, have you ever thought of what happens if one parent takes a child, whether for their regular parenting time, or vacation, and fails to return them?
Now, if it’s just a few hours, that’s one thing. If a parent is habitually late, there are remedies for that. A parent can even be held in contempt for that behavior! But what if a parent takes a child on vacation, and purposefully fails to return them? Even takes them outside the country? Below are our three keys to child safety.
One of the most horrifying things to happen in a divorce is to have the other parent take your child, go to another country and refuse to return. The Hague Convention is the international law that governs this type of kidnapping. Not all countries are signatories to the Hague Convention. There are also vast differences between dealing with the Hague Convention in a country that recognizes and follows it (i.e., France), and one that is a signatory, but not really compliant.
Handling a Hague Convention case is a bureaucratic maze. There are very specific rules and requirements that do not exist in an ordinary case, and there is the overlay of dealing with the State Department as well as obtaining two sets of lawyers. You will need a lawyer in the country of the children’s “habitual residence” as well as one in the country to which the children were taken. There often are language barriers as well, so typically you need to find a lawyer who is fluent in English in the country to which the children were taken.
In fact, determining the country of the children’s “habitual residence” can be problematic. Hague Convention … Keep reading
I have been reading the David Goldman saga for some months now. As a story, it highlights the problems of international custody cases when one parent takes the children to a foreign country and will not return them. These cases are very difficult, even if the country in question has signed the Hague convention. You need an American divorce attorney who understands the convention, contacts at the US State Department; an attorney in the foreign country who does family law and understands the Hague convention and has contacts in the foreign State Department. It is hellishly expensive. Furthermore, if the country in question hasn’t signed the Hague convention (like most of the Muslim countries) then the result can be tragic.
If you don’t know the Goldman story, in 2004 David’s then wife took their 4 year old American born son to Brazil for what she told David was a 2 week vacation. Once there she ended the marriage, remarried a Brazilian lawyer and then died in childbirth in 2008.
David Goldman has been fighting to be reunited with his son for 5 years and the reunion happened on Christmas Eve.