Will The Hague Convention Help Get My Internationally Abducted Child Returned?

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was founded to help recover children abducted by non-custodial parents across international boundaries.  While the Hague in theory sounds like the remedy for the parent whose custody has been violated, it’s not always as effective in practice.  The child’s welfare is not paramount.  It ultimately decides which country has jurisdiction to decide where the child should permanently reside. First of all, the country to which your child has been abducted must subscribe to the Hague Convention.  Otherwise, there is no recourse. Filing a Hague Convention application is the first step.  This needs to be filed promptly.  You will need an attorney that can represent you in the lawsuit.  If not filed within 6 weeks, the chance of the abducting parent filing a claim first increases.  Also, the courts are often reluctant to send a child away if the child has become settled in the new location. Your attorney must decide whether to bring the lawsuit to federal or state court.  The right court choice can make a big difference in a Hague case. As with any lawsuit, the amount of evidence to support your case is critical.  Be attentive to every detail.  Consider everything that will affect the child’s physical or psychological well being, whether there was abuse, whether the foreign country will provide adequate protection to the child, just to name a few.  Interviewing family members, neighbors, friends, teachers, co-workers and anyone else that may have had interactions with the child and parents will also aid in the successful lawsuit. The goal of the Hague Convention was implemented for...

Help! My Child Has Been Abducted.

Having a child abducted by a non-custodial parent or family member, can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Panic, desperation, anxiety and a feeling of helplessness all pour in. But short of calling local law enforcement, what else should you do? Time is of the essence. In the US, start with activating the Amber alert system. Time and distance are not your friends. The longer the child is missing, the more distance the abducting parent can put between you and your child. The Amber alert network may help spot your child and alert authorities. Gather all the information you can for law enforcement. Current pictures and description are crucial. Include any identifying marks, clothing and accessories (like stuffed animals, dolls, favorite toys, etc.) that they might have. Create a list of family members and their addresses, especially those of the non-custodial parent or family member. People tend to gravitate to a familiar surroundings, like another family member. Alerting law enforcement in those areas may help locate your child sooner. But what happens when the non-custodial family member has family outside the US? Now, the abducted child recovery effort has multiplied exponentially. Once the child is outside the border of the United States, you are now dealing with multiple law enforcement agencies. What’s their motivation to help someone from another country recover a child from one of their citizens? Will they recognize your court custodial order? Do they have the resources to devote to finding your child or will it be one of those tasks that sits on someone’s desk until they have time to get around to it? If you...