Hague Convention and Divorce

In October of 1980 The Hague Convention concluded and was entered into force by the signatories in 1983.  The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence. The following excerpts from an article published by the American Bar Association on International Child Custody Cases give us a basic idea on how the Hague Convention can support and effect you when traveling with your children to other countries.

…International clients can end up in many strange predicaments, but the most common ones involve the following dilemmas: A parent wants to move to another country with the child, either after divorce or at the time of separation. Or, a parent has already moved with the child and the other parent wants the child back. Or, a parent doesn’t want to trust another country’s courts for the custody case.

Do not pass go; go back to square one. You have to go to court in the child’s habitual residence before moving, instead of moving and then going to court.”

These are [concepts at the heart of] the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a treaty with approximately 45 member countries, and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), along with its updated replacement, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

The Convention provides for immediate return of children who are taken from their country of “habitual residence” in violation of “custody rights.” It is not concerned with substantive custody questions or even with jurisdiction; its purpose is to send children back to their primary residence, where they came from, after making a determination about a very limited set of factual questions. It is sort of like extradition, but should not be confused with it.

This article by John Crouch is very informative, however if you find yourself in a situation where you would like to take your children to another country, in the middle of an international divorce, custody battle, kidnapping or extradition, we are here to help assure that all the appropriate precautions and steps are taken.

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