The Hague Convention: theory vs. reality

Resources for Parentally Abducted ChildrenMany left-behind parents are told that the Hague Convention will bring about the return of their abducted children. Some authorities say that if your child is abducted, you should follow procedures outlined by the Hague, but we don’t agree.

Until 1980, there was no international system in place to help parents recover abducted children who had been taken to other nations. The Hague Convention attempted to create one, but it doesn’t work. If you take the time to read the well-intentioned text of the Hague, you’ll see its many flaws.

In our opinion, it’s not worth the large amounts of money, time and trouble to hire an attorney in the U.S. to try using the Hague Convention to get your child back. You aren’t likely to get him or her back — and even worse, the abducting parent could be “legitimized” by the courts in another nation.

Under the Hague Convention, a case must be filed in the country where the abductor has taken the child. The courts of that country tend to render their decisions in favor of their countrymen, as the Hague Convention focuses on residency, not citizenship. There is little concern for the fact that the child is a citizen of the country from which he or she was abducted, or for the possible detrimental effect on the child.

Even if the child was born in the United States, if that child is found to be a “habitual resident” by the courts in another country, the child may be ordered to be returned to that country.

This underscores the need to act quickly, and contact Delta International now.

Few, if any, of the Hague signatory countries are going to send anyone out to physically recover your child for you. U.S. Embassy officials may check on the child’s welfare, if it is known where the child is and if the abducting parent lets them.

As soon as abducting parents are aware that that they’ve been located, they’ll usually disappear with the children again.

And about hiring lawyers…

You need to be aware that a great amount of money has been spent on U.S. lawyers in foreign abduction cases. The unfortunate fact is that they, most often, can’t practice in the foreign courts and are required to hire associate lawyers in the foreign country.

More money…

Even if the U.S. lawyer is able to get a warrant in a U.S. court, in the foreign country it is often looked upon as “just another piece of paper.” Is the U.S. lawyer going to personally go to the foreign country and take custody of the abducted child?

Equally bad is the fact that the foreign court will usually rule in favor of its own citizens, if it even acknowledges your case at all.

The Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
An international treaty, ratified by the U.S. in 1988, that governs the return of abducted children to their custodial parents, commonly known as the Hague Convention.