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 the right reasons, but with any legal matter, the outcome, while obvious to the custodial parent, may not resolve as they hoped. Even with a favorable ruling, that doesn’t mean the child will automatically be returned. The rights of the left-behind parent ends outside the U.S. (or home country’s) border.
Delta International, child abduction recovery specialists, have been helping reunite victims of parental abduction with their custodial parents for over 35 years.