What is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction?
Although the Hague Convention is mostly referred to in cases of international adoption, there is also a Hague Convention surrounding the abduction of children. These guidelines and agreements between countries can be of significant aid to you if your former partner takes your children without your knowledge or consent to a convention country. The Convention protocols provide a process for return of the children to their home country and are crucial because in many cases, countries will not interfere with foreign legal systems or judiciaries, especially in regards to parental rights. Therefore, if you have found yourself in this extremely difficult situation, contact an Orlando Child Custody Attorney today to discuss how the Hague Convention can aid in the return of your child.
For the Convention to apply, there are certain standards that must be met. These standards include: the child must be under the age of 16 and be a resident of a convention country; the country where the child was taken to must also be a convention country; and the removal of the child was wrongful. There are over 100 convention countries presently, therefore, there is a good chance of fulfilling this element. To be wrongful, the removal of the child must breach the rights of the parent. To determine if the rights of a parent have been breached, you can look to a valid child custody agreement establishing each parent’s responsibility and rights to the child, or proof in the form of parentage such as a birth certificate. However, courts tend to rely heavily on the existing child custody arrangement to determine which rights were infringed upon and determine the basis for return of the child.
When the issue involves two convention countries and the abduction of a child, the countries will work together through their Central Authorities to determine the proper course of action. The Central Authorities are responsible for locating the child, all documents will be filed with the Central Authority, and they will also facilitate the return of the child if appropriate. After the initial petition is filed to return the child, courts will review the case to determine if return of the child is in the child’s best interest. Generally, courts will look at the physical, emotional, psychological harm the child may endure, if the parent seeking the return in fact has rights to the child and has consistently exercised them, if the parent seeking return consented to the removal of the child previously, if the child seeks to remain in the foreign country with the other parent, the statute of limitations has run, meaning more than one year has passed since the wrongful removal, or the return would violate the fundamental principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country where the child is being held.
Parental abduction to a foreign country is a scary and difficult process. Therefore, it is important to understand your rights under the Hague Convention and speak to an experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney to ensure the quick and safe return of your child.
Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.