Hague Convention – International Child Abduction – Washington State

International parental kidnappings of U.S. children have been reported in countries all over the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, and the United Kingdom. Navigating international child abduction cases in Washington State can be a legal minefield. During these situations, knowing your legal rights and options through the Hague Convention could prove detrimental to protecting the victims involved.

“International parental kidnapping can have serious emotional, psychological, and even physical consequences for the abducted child.”

– A Law Enforcement Guide on International Parental Kidnapping, U.S. Department of Justice

Every day, children are wrongfully removed from their residing homes and taken to a foreign country, in violation of parental rights.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another. The powerful international treaty that can yield beneficial results when it is implemented correctly and appropriately.

Here’s everything you need to know about international child abduction and the Hague Convention for residents of Washington State.

WHAT IS THE HAGUE CONVENTION? 

The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects on International Child Abduction was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) which provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained their custody may petition for the child’s return to their country of habitual residence. This treaty was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and entered into force in December of 1983.

The countries that participate are also included in a large treaty that governs the way different legal systems work together. The two main goals were to:

  • Create a means to ensure that judicial and extrajudicial documents to be served abroad can be brought to the notice of the addressee in sufficient time.
  • Improve the organization of mutual judicial assistance.

FILING A CASE UNDER THE HAGUE CONVENTION IN WASHINGTON STATE

Filing a case under the Hague Convention doesn’t immediately guarantee the return of a child. First, the following must be demonstrated:

  1. The child was habitually residing in one Convention country and was wrongfully removed or retained to another.
  2. The removal or retention was considered wrongful if it was in violation of custodial rights and those rights were being exercised at the time of removal or retention.
  3. The Convention was in force between the two countries at the time of wrongful removal or retention.
  4. The child is under 16 years of age.

RETURNING OF THE CHILD

If your child/children have been wrongfully removed from your home in Washington State and taken overseas, you need to move fast.

The return of an internationally abducted child is often settled through negotiation or with the left-behind parents filing a civil petition pursuant through the Hague Convention. Deciding whether to file a Hague application is an important decision and must be considered based on each case’s specific circumstances. If a court decides the child must be returned to its country of habitual residence, they may make the return contingent upon certain obligations from the petitioning parents. This might include:

  • Paying for the travel of the respondent and child to the country where the child habitually resides.
  • Arranging housing or paying for living expenses for the respondent and child in the country of the child’s habitual residence.
  • An order that the petitioner have no contact with the respondent if the respondent returns to the country of the child’s habitual residence.
  • An order that the petitioner will have no contact or limited contact with the child once the child returns to the country of the habitual residence.

POSSIBLE DEFENSES AGAINST THE HAGUE CONVENTION

Under the Hague Convention, a court may deny the return of a child if one of the following applies:

  • There is a grave risk that the child’s return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.
  • The child objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which the court can take account of the child’s views.
  • More than one year has passed since the wrongful removal or retention occurred and the child has settled in their new environment.
  • The party seeking return consented to or subsequently acquiesced to the child’s removal or retention.
  • The return would violate the fundamental principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the county where the child is being held.
  • The party seeking return was not exercising the right of custody at the time of the wrongful removal or retention.

HIRING A HAGUE CONVENTION LAWYER 

In acts of desperation, some parents may consider using extra-judicial forms of recovery, such as personally traveling to the foreign country to recover a child. Although it may seem easier and faster to use extra-judicial methods, they often violate U.S. federal laws and the laws of the foreign country involved, and may potentially exacerbate the situation.

With the difficulty of international child abduction and Hague Convention cases, you should instead hire an attorney with extensive international law experience and Hague Convention cases across the globe. Ultimately, working with the family court system to resolve custody issues is the best avenue for ensuring the safety of all parents and children involved.


About Masters Law Group

At Masters Law Group, we are highly experienced in international and family law matters. Our goal is to make the legal system easier to navigate for our clients. We will make sure you clearly understand the legal situation and your rights so you can make the best decisions for you and your family.

Instead of trying to navigate international law issues alone, take advantage of the experience and knowledge of our attorneys at Masters Law Group. We are committed to vigorously representing clients in these high-stakes proceedings.

Contact us to schedule your consultation here today. 

How to Help Prevent International Child Abduction in 2023

Asides from extreme vigilance, there are steps you can take to help prevent International Parental Child Abduction, and there are steps to take if you or your family have fallen victim to these high-stakes legal issues. 

International child custody and parental abduction issues can be both complex and costly to resolve. Unfortunately, parents without global connections can increase the risk of the other parent removing the child to another country without their consent. This is where we come in.

Whether the child is only a few miles south or north of the border or across the globe, parents need to understand how to prevent international parental child abduction from happening. Here’s what you need to know in order to protect you and your family in 2023.

How International Child Abduction Occurs

There are several scenarios where parental abduction can happen. One of the most popular scenarios is when one parent without advance agreement, leaves for another country with their children. Regardless of the situation, you must know your rights as a parent involved within an international family.

As an international family, you may have a lot of trust in your partner. If you are part of an international family, you may believe that your partner would never remove your child to another country without your permission. Unfortunately, circumstances can change. It is important for international and multicultural families to anticipate the possibility of a child being removed or kept from their home country, and learn how to take measures to prevent it.

How To Help Prevent International Parental Child Abduction

As a parent experiencing this frightening situation, your first line of defense is to have a clearly documented parenting plan in place. This plan should clearly define the child’s home state. In Illinois, child custody laws will typically fall in favor of what’s best in the interests of the child. A parenting plan will usually recognize the following:

  • The continuity of the parent-child relationship typically is in the child’s best interest.
  • The needs of children change and grow as they mature.
  • Custodial parents make daily decisions (including emergencies) while the child is with that particular parent.
  • Both parents are to have access to a child’s official records.

By having a parenting plan in place it will give you and your child an added layer of protection should they be abducted in the future. However, it’s always best to consult an experienced family law attorney regarding effective travel consent letters and their limitations.

Hague Law and Responding to International Child Custody Issues

If you’re a parent in the U.S. who has had their child taken across border lines, it’s important to know that there are laws in place that can help you get your child back.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the main international agreement that covers international parental child abduction. It provides a process through which a parent can seek to have their child returned to their home country.

A number of countries around the globe have joined a treaty called the Hague Convention. This multilateral treaty was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and concluded on October 25, 1980, entering into force on December 1, 1983.

According to the Convention, the removal or retention of a child is “wrongful” whenever it breaches custody rights attributed to a person or any other body. If, at the time of removal or retention, those rights were exercised. 

Even if a parent already has legal custody of a child, such as in an uncontested divorce case where one parent has sole legal custody and primary physical custody prior to abduction by another parent; The Hague Convention applies because it supersedes any conflicting state law.

Final Thoughts

If you have fallen victim to international child abduction, it’s important to know what resources are available. At Masters Law Group, our team of knowledgeable and highy experienced attorneys are here to help you through this process. 

Our Senior Attorneys, Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph, have extensive experience in cases involving international child custody disputes in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Hague Convention – International Child Abduction in California

International Parental Child Abduction is on the rise. If you live in California and are facing this high-stakes legal issue, here’s what you need to know.

International child abduction cases can be extremely difficult and delicate situations. The Hague Convention was enacted into law to help parents whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained from their custody by enabling them to petition for the child’s return to their country of habitual residence. Navigating this law can be tricky and if you’re in a situation where the Hague Convention is applicable, it’s important to have an attorney that’s highly experienced in international law.

Luckily, the award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group have successfully represented clients in such cases across the country and globe; including cases involving families in Washington State, California and internationally in New Zealand, but to name a few. If you need help with an international child abduction case, we can help.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Hague Convention and International Child Abduction in California. 

History of The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is essentially a treaty that a number of countries joined starting in 1983. The purpose of the Convention is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by encouraging the quick return of the child to their country of habitual residence. Additionally it helps to organize and secure the effective rights of access to a child.

Hague Convention Framework

The Hague Convention framework was created to help countries find solutions for challenging custody cases where a child has been abducted. There are a number of instances where this can occur, but the most common is when a child is wrongfully removed from their habitual home and taken to a foreign country

When a parent’s custody rights are violated, a custody order is not needed to prove parental parenthood. Additionally, a child being returned to their place of habitual residence does not depend on the immigration status or nationality of the child or their parents. 

When an international abduction happens, the Central Authority are responsible for the following: 

  • Being the point of contact for the parents and children in the international child abduction case.
  • Help locate the child. 
  • Encourage a solution that favors both parents.
  • Submit documents as part of the application that are admissible in courts in both countries.

What’s Needed to File a Convention Case in California

Filing a case under the Hague Convention doesn’t immediately guarantee the return of a child. First, the following must be demonstrated:

  1. The child was habitually residing in one Convention country and was wrongfully removed or retained to another.
  2. The removal or retention was considered wrongful if it was in violation of custodial rights and those rights were being exercised at the time of removal or retention.
  3. The Convention was in force between the two countries at the time of wrongful removal or retention.
  4. The child is under 16 years of age.

Hiring a Hague Convention Lawyer 

With the difficulty of international child abduction and Hague Convention cases, it’s essential to hire an attorney with extensive international law experience. At Masters Law Group, we are highly experienced in international and family law matters. Our goal is to make the legal system easier to navigate for our clients. We will make sure you clearly understand the legal situation and your rights so you can make the best decisions for you and your family. 

Instead of trying to navigate international law issues alone, take advantage of the experience and knowledge of our attorneys at Masters Law Group. We are committed to vigorously representing you in these high-stakes proceedings. 

Contact us to schedule your consultation here today. 

Hague Convention – International Child Abduction – San Francisco

When San Francisco courts determine custody arrangements, they ultimately consider the best interests of the child involved. However, a custody agreement can get extremely complex when the issues are international. 

The Hague Convention was enacted to protect children from international abduction and to return children to their home country residence. It also includes child custody conflicts when a parent or guardian resides in a different country to the home country of the child.

If you’re in need of legal representation to protect your rights or the rights of your child, Masters Law Group can help. We can represent parents and children in a variety of complex international abduction cases. 

Here’s everything you need to know about international abduction cases and the Hague Convention in San Francisco. 

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is a treaty that works to help parents whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained from their custody by enabling them to petition for the child’s return to their country of habitual residence. A number of counties have joined this treaty which was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and officially entered into force in December 1983. 

According to the Convention, the removal or retention of a child is “wrongful” when it breaches custody rights attributed to a person or any other body. Even if a parent already has legal custody of the child, the Convention is needed to return the child back to their habitual residence. 

The Convention’s framework allows countries to help one another find solutions for difficult custody cases where a child is abducted. This doesn’t rely on the immigration status or nationality of the child. In certain situations, a child may be wrongfully detained in another country, where they are not a resident. Violations of custodial rights happen if the child is wrongfully removed from their habitual home and are now living in a foreign country. 

Presenting a custody order is not needed to prove that a parent’s custodial rights were violated when the child was taken from their country. This can be proven by showing proof of parenthood. 

Filing a Hague Application in San Francisco

Whether or not the Hague Convention is an appropriate solution for you depends on a variety of factors. Perhaps after separating from their partner, a parent wants to take their child and move to another country. Another situation may be that a parent moved internationally in violation of a custody agreement. It’s important to know that filing a case under the Hague Convention does not automatically guarantee the child will be returned. 

To obtain the return of the child, it must be proven that:

  • The child was habitually resident in one Convention country and was removed to or retained in another Convention country.
  • The removal or retention of the child is considered wrongful and was in violation of custodial rights, and those rights were exercised at the time of removal or retention.
  • The Convention must have been in force between the two countries at the time of the wrongful removal or retention. 
  • The child is under the age of 16.

If a court decides the child must be returned to its country of habitual residence, they may make the return contingent upon certain obligations from the petitioning parents. This might include: 

  • Paying for the travel of the respondent and child to the country where the child habitually resides.
  • Arranging housing or paying for living expenses for the respondent and child in the country of the child’s habitual residence. 
  • An order that the petitioner have no contact with the respondent if the respondent returns to the country of the child’s habitual residence. 
  • An order that the petitioner will have no contact or limited contact with the child once the child returns to the country of the habitual residence. 

Getting the Legal Help You Need in San Francisco

High-stakes international child abduction cases require experienced, knowledgeable and fast-acting attorneys. Your lawyer should be ready to file a Hague Convention application and institute or defend a Hague Convention lawsuit on short notice.

Our attorneys at Masters Law Group have extensive experience in international child abduction cases.  Instead of trying to navigate international law issues alone, take advantage of the experience and knowledge of our attorneys at Masters Law Group. We are committed to vigorously representing our clients in these high-stakes proceedings. 

Contact Masters Law Group Today

The award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group have successfully represented clients in such cases across the country and globe; including Hague cases across the United States and Internationally in New Zealand, but to name a few.

Contact us to schedule your consultation here today.

Hague Convention – International Child Abduction – South Carolina

Every day, children are wrongfully removed from their residing homes and taken to a foreign country, in violation of parental rights. Navigating international child abduction cases in South Carolina can be a legal minefield. During these situations, knowing your legal rights and options through the Hague Convention could prove detrimental to protecting the victims involved.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects on International Child Abduction provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another. This treaty can yield beneficial results when it’s implemented correctly and appropriately. 

Here’s everything you need to know about international child abduction and the Hague Convention for residents of South Carolina.

What is the Hague Convention? 

The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects on International Child Abduction was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) which provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained their custody may petition for the child’s return to their country of habitual residence. This treaty was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and entered into force in December of 1983. 

The countries that participate are also included in a large treaty that governs the way different legal systems work together. The two main goals were to: 

  • Create a means to ensure that judicial and extrajudicial documents to be served abroad can be brought to the notice of the addressee in sufficient time. 
  • Improve the organization of mutual judicial assistance. 

Filing a Case Under the Hague Convention in South Carolina

Filing a case under the Hague Convention doesn’t immediately guarantee the return of a child. First, the following must be demonstrated:

  1. The child was habitually residing in one Convention country and was wrongfully removed or retained to another.
  2. The removal or retention was considered wrongful if it was in violation of custodial rights and those rights were being exercised at the time of removal or retention.
  3. The Convention was in force between the two countries at the time of wrongful removal or retention.
  4. The child is under 16 years of age.

Returning of the Child

If your child/children have been wrongfully removed from your home in South Carolina and taken overseas, you need to move fast.

The return of an internationally abducted child is often settled through negotiation or with the left-behind parents filing a civil petition pursuant through the Hague Convention. Deciding whether to file a Hague application is an important decision and must be considered based on each case’s specific circumstances. If a court decides the child must be returned to its country of habitual residence, they may make the return contingent upon certain obligations from the petitioning parents. This might include: 

  • Paying for the travel of the respondent and child to the country where the child habitually resides.
  • Arranging housing or paying for living expenses for the respondent and child in the country of the child’s habitual residence. 
  • An order that the petitioner have no contact with the respondent if the respondent returns to the country of the child’s habitual residence. 
  • An order that the petitioner will have no contact or limited contact with the child once the child returns to the country of the habitual residence. 

Possible Defenses Against the Hague Convention

Under the Hague Convention, a court may deny the return of a child if one of the following applies:

  • There is a grave risk that the child’s return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.
  • The child objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which the court can take account of the child’s views.
  • More than one year has passed since the wrongful removal or retention occurred and the child has settled in their new environment. 
  • The party seeking return consented to or subsequently acquiesced to the child’s removal or retention.
  • The return would violate the fundamental principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the county where the child is being held.
  • The party seeking return was not exercising the right of custody at the time of the wrongful removal or retention. 

Choosing a Hague Attorney for Residents of South Carolina

To ensure you have the best chance possible in your international child abduction case, you need to find an attorney who understands both the dire circumstances and the delicate interplay between federal and international law.

The award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group have successfully represented clients in such cases across the country and globe; including Hague cases in Washington State, California and Internationally in New Zealand, but to name a few. And we’re ready to help you.

Contact the family law attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our experienced team will help you navigate the legal complexities of your case and are committed to vigorously representing you in these frightening and high-stakes proceedings. 

Contact us to schedule your consultation here today. 

 

Hague Law with Masters Law Group

International Child Custody can be a legal minefield. Luckily, The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“The Hague Convention”) was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”) which provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained in the United States may petition for the child’s return to his or her country of habitual residence.

When parents divorce, deciding how to handle issues regarding your children can be intense. When parents originate from separate countries, these disputes can become complicated very quickly, especially when one parent attempts to move children across international borders.

When this happens you need a Hauge lawyer who is highly experienced in international law. They understand how to settle matters of jurisdiction involving courts in the United States and other countries across the globe (if these nations are a part of the convention).

Accredited family law attorneys Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph of Masters Law Group have extensive experience in cases involving international child abduction disputes in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system.

Here’s what you need to know about Hague law.

Understand How US Law Applies To International Child Removal 

In the United States, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) governs the procedures that U.S. courts use to implement the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. The goals of both ICARA and the Hague Convention are to promptly return children to the country where they have habitually resided, and to protect parents’ custody rights across international borders.

The Hague Convention’s applicability can be determined by two factors:

(1) whether both parents have consented to their child’s removal from one country to another; or

(2) if a child has been wrongfully removed from one country and brought into another country without either parent’s consent.

Hauge Law is created in order to protect you and your family both nationally and internationally. Let’s take a look at the framework and what it entails. 

Hague Convention Framework

The hague convention framework was created to help countries find solutions for difficult custody cases where a child has been abducted. There are several situations where this can happen, but the most common is when a child is wrongfully removed from their habitual home and now lives in a foreign country.

The Central Authority must do the following:

  • Be the point of contact for parents and children in international child custody cases.
  • Help locate abducted children.
  • Encourage solutions that work for both parents.
  • Submit documents as part of the application are admissible in courts in partner countries.

Ultimately, when a parent’s custody rights are violated, a custody order is not needed to prove parental parenthood or marriage. A child being returned to his/her place of habitual residence does not depend on the immigration status/or nationality of the child or his/her parents.

Hiring a Hague Lawyer

If you need a Hague lawyer, we can help. We are highly experienced in international law and family law. Our goal is to make the legal system easier to navigate for our clients. We will make sure you understand your rights, so that you can make the best possible decisions for your family.

We can represent you if:

  • You live in the United States and your child has been taken across borders and overseas.
  • You live anywhere in the world and your child has been abducted into/out of the United States.
  • You have been accused of international child abduction and need a lawyer to protect your parental rights.

We will thoroughly investigate the facts of your case. We will give you straightforward advice so that you can make decisions with confidence knowing the legal implications of those decisions.

To learn more about your options, contact us to schedule a one-on-one appointment with our experienced Hauge lawyers, Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph. We will work aggressively to advocate on your behalf.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

Your child’s safety is always top priority. At Masters Law Group, our goal is to help you protect yourself and your children from international abduction, while also ensuring that you have access to them. 

Our Hague lawyers have extensive experience in international child abduction cases. Our clients span across the entire U.S., from Washington to Wisconsin, so you can rest assured knowing that the experienced Masters Law Group attorneys are fighting for you and your family.

For a list of our Hauge Decisions, see here.If you or a loved one is facing International Parental Child Abduction, contact Chicago attorneys at Masters Law Group today to schedule a consultation.

International Child Custody: How Masters Can Help

Every year, children are wrongfully removed from the United States or retained outside of the U.S. in violation of parental custody rights. Whether trying to identify risk factors or your child/children have been removed from their habitual residence, knowing your legal options through The Hague Convention could prove detrimental in protecting victims involved. 

When Illinois courts determine custody arrangements, they ultimately consider the best interests of the child/children involved. However, what are often relatively simple custody matters can quickly become complicated when one parent moves out of the state or out of the country. Especially unlawfully.

If you need legal representation to protect your rights or the rights of your child, we can help. At our downtown Chicago law office, we represent parents and children in a variety of complex international custody disputes. Here’s what you need to know.

Negotiating International Child Custody Disputes

Parents who wish to move out of the country may do so by seeking a custody modification just as they would if they were moving out of state. Complications arise when a parent moves out of the country before a custody order is finalized or when a parent does so in violation of an existing order. When a parent moves out of the country in direct violation of a custody order, he or she is committing international parental child abduction.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another. The powerful international treaty that can yield beneficial results when it is implemented correctly and appropriately.

The Hague Convention

Many countries subscribe to the Hague Convention, which facilitates reciprocal agreements when it comes to custody. Although the Hague Convention does not ultimately decide custody cases, it does determine which jurisdiction or which country should hear the case. Generally, this is where the child had established familiar roots before his or her removal or abduction or, as the Convention calls it, the child’s “habitual residence.”

Because many countries do not have formalized laws regarding international child abductions and because there are so many variables involved with each case (such as whether or not both parents want custody), there are no hard-and-fast rules for international child abduction cases. Each situation must be evaluated on its own merits and in light of that particular nation’s laws and regulations regarding custody matters.

International parental abductions of U.S. children have been reported in countries all over the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, and the United Kingdom. A parent who is left behind when a child is abducted to another country faces daunting obstacles to finding and recovering the child.

A History of Success Serving Clients In Illinois and Internationally

Masters Law Group has extensive knowledge and experience with The Hague Convention which provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained in the United States may petition for the child’s return to his or her country of habitual residence. 

Our clients span across the entire United States, from Washington to Wisconsin; so you can rest assured knowing the experienced Masters Law Group attorneys are fighting for you and your family. Our attorneys understand the laws in these highly sensitive cases. Their priority is to ensure the kids return to safety and that they have the opportunity to exert their rights and obtain justice. 

Here are just a few of our featured Huage Cases:

How Our Firm Can Help

If you are in need of an international child abduction lawyer, we can help. The legal system is a complicated and confusing place. That’s why we’re here—to make sure that you understand your rights and options, so that you can make the best possible decisions for your family.

We can represent you if:

  • You live in the United States and your child has been abducted into a foreign country.
  • You live anywhere in the world and your child has been abducted into the United States.
  • You have been accused of international child abduction and need a lawyer to protect your parental rights.

We will carefully examine the facts to determine the strength of your case. We will give you straightforward advice so that you know exactly where you stand in the eyes of the law.

To learn more about your options, contact us to schedule a one-on-one appointment with our experienced lawyers, Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph. We understand that your children are your top priority. We will work aggressively to advocate on their behalf.

Contact Masters Law Group Today

Illinois is a community property state, which means that all of the marital property is divided equally between the spouses. This can have a significant impact on child custody arrangements, especially if one spouse intends to leave the state or country.

If you have found yourself in a situation where your former spouse has unlawfully fled the country with your child, you should contact your attorney right away. At Masters Law Group, we can handle the process of contacting domestic and international governments to ensure that your rights are being protected.

Our attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience with The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“The Hague Convention”) that was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”). Our experienced attorneys will provide you with detail-oriented representation as each case is unique. Contact our Chicago office to schedule a consultation today.

The Muddy Waters of Financial Restitution Against Parental Abductors

In federal court, a convicted offender may be ordered to reimburse victims for financial losses incurred due to the offender’s crime. This reimbursement is called “restitution”. Parental International Child Abduction is against the law, however, the provisions of such cases are not crystal clear. Read on to learn more. 

Parental kidnapping on an international level is on the rise, and it has become a serious concern for many. We often wonder whether the law considers it a crime, and the answer is definitely “yes”.

Individual perpetrators may be held responsible for reparations in international criminal procedures, yet experiences to date demonstrate this to be an unlikely avenue for the majority of victims.

Under U.S. law, a left-behind parent whose child has been abducted to the United States can seek reimbursement from the abducting parent for the expenses incurred in seeking the child’s return. 22 U.S.C. §9007(b)(3).

However, there is no clear provision entitling a left-behind parent whose child has been abducted out of the United States to seek reimbursement from the abducting parent for the expenses incurred in seeking the child’s return to his or her home country.

Here’s what you need to know about financial restitution against parental abductors.

Gray Areas of Financial Restitution

Restitution is the practice of holding offenders accountable for the financial losses suffered by victims of their crimes. Restitution may be ordered in both juvenile and criminal courts to compensate victims for out-of-pocket expenses that are the direct result of a crime. When it comes to International Child Abduction cases through The Hague Convention, the Ninth and Tenth Circuits appear to disagree on whether federal law allowing restitution to crime victims can be used to recoup a left-behind parent’s legal expenses.

Examples of Financial Restitution

The Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982 permits a federal district court to order a criminal defendant to pay restitution to a victim in an amount up to “expenses related to participation in the investigation or prosecution of the offense.” 18 U.S.C. §3663(b)(4). But as you’ll read below, on appeal, the Tenth Circuit overturned the restitution award.

In 2002, U.S. v. Cummings, 281 F.3d 1046,  the defendant’s father was convicted of violating the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) by abducting his children from their home in Washington State to Germany. 

The mother who was left behind brought a return action against the father under the Hague Abduction Convention and an action in Washington State for contempt of court for violating a custody order. The father was sentenced to jail time, ordered to pay the mother’s legal fees and expenses, and required to participate in counseling.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the restitution award, holding that the mother’s civil cases were not “wholly separate” from the government’s prosecution of the father. This was supported by the fact that, by initiating a case under the Hague Convention, the mother had followed the procedure specifically described in the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act as the preferred “option of first choice” for a left-behind parent.

In 2020, U.S. v. Mobley, 971 F.3d 1187, did not follow the Cummings verdict. In Mobley, the government prosecuted a mother under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) for her abduction of her children from their home in Kansas to Russia. Once she was in Russia, she filed for divorce and custody; the left-behind father then sued for divorce and custody in Kansas. 

The Russia court had given custody to the mother, and the Kansas Court gave custody to the father. The district court found the mother guilty under the IPKCA and ordered restitution to the father of legal fees and expenses that he incurred in connection with both civil cases.

However, on appeal, the Tenth Circuit held that the trial court erred in awarding restitution under 18 U.S.C. §3663 because the expenses incurred were not related to the investigation or prosecution of the mother’s criminal offense. It held that these terms are limited to proceedings related to the government’s investigation or prosecution and those proceedings related to attendance at court related to such matters. 

The evidence showed that while there was no evidence that the government sanctioned or directed the father’s civil proceedings, there was also no evidence that his suit assisted in any way in the criminal prosecution against the mother.

Based on the analysis of the current state of international law, it is clear that the state has positive duties to prevent violations and demonstrate due diligence. But there’s a long way to go.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

There is an increasing trend in favor of enabling individual victims of violations of international humanitarian law to seek reparation directly from the responsible State. However, the water is muddy to say the least. In future cases, the recent codification of international criminal law has significantly influenced the discourse on post-conflict justice, while legal research on post-conflict justice has been inspired by the rapid developments in international justice mechanisms. As a result, much focus has been on the accountability of perpetrators, in particular, in the application of universal jurisdiction.

The family law attorneys at Masters Law Group are highly experienced with international parental child abduction disputes. If you believe your child is at threat of being abducted by a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting on their behalf, contact us today for a consultation.

For more information on our recent Hague Decisions, see here:

What are the Defenses to the Hague Convention?

A parent who moves with a child from the child’s home country to another country may face accusations that the move is wrongful. The Hague Abduction Convention is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions and parental abductions. 

The Hague Convention is a treaty that the United States has joined, along with many other countries. Its purpose is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent.

When one parent applies to the State Court or Federal Court for return of a child who has been taken from a foreign country and brought to the United States, or is wrongfully retained in the United States beyond the agreed-upon time frame of a temporary absence, that parent may assert certain defenses to prevent the return.

The courts can deny the return of an abducted child under six conditions listed in the Convention, including if a child would be at risk of being subjected to physical or psychological harm, or otherwise placed in an intolerable situation.

Fun Fact: Masters Law Group is highly experienced with Hague Convention cases, with clients not only in the Greater Chicagoland area, but also across the United States in Washington, Hawaii and Wisconsin. 

Here’s what you need to know about the defenses to the Hague Convention.

What is the Hague Convention? 

The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, codified as ICARA, allows a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained in the United States to petition for the child’s return to his or her country of habitual residence.

This treaty was developed by the Hague Conference on October 25, 1980, and went into effect on December 1, 1983. There were two specific goals in mind for Hague Services:

  • Create a means to ensure that judicial and extrajudicial documents to be served abroad can be brought to the notice of the addressee in sufficient time.
  • Improve the organization of mutual judicial assistance.

The removal of a child is “wrongful” whenever it breaches the rights of the person who has custody attributed to them at the time of removal. Even if a parent already has legal custody of a child, the Convention is needed. This is because U.S. court orders are not always recognized in other countries and sovereign nations can’t interfere with each other’s legal systems, judiciaries, or law enforcement. 

Under the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), when a child has been wrongfully removed from his or her home country, the court must order the child to be returned to his or her home country, unless the party removing the child can establish at least one of six narrow affirmative defenses.

Six Defenses of the Hague Convention

Here are the following defenses to claim wrongful removal under the Hague Convention:

Defense 1: That the petitioner (parent seeking the return of the child) was not “actually exercising custody rights at the time of the removal or retention” under Article 13.

Defense 2: That the petitioner “had consented to or acquiesced in the removal or retention” under Article 13.

Defense 3: That more than one year passed from the time of the wrongful removal or retention until the date the petitioner commenced a judicial or administrative proceeding for the return of the child, under Article 12.

Defense 4: That the child is old enough and has a sufficient degree of maturity to knowingly object to being returned to the petitioner and that it is appropriate to heed that objection, under Article 13.

Defense 5: That “there is grave risk that the child’s return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation,” under Article 13(b), and

Defense 6: That return of the child would subject the child to violation of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, under Article 20.

It’s important to note, you should make International Custody Agreements & Parenting Time schedules before you relocate your child/children. U.S. Courts will need to determine the best interest of the child before you do so. 

If you believe your child has been wrongfully removed to a country overseas, or if you would like to move your child out of the U.S. you should contact your trusted family law attorney immediately.  Your attorney can explain the proper steps for handling this matter and guide you toward a just outcome.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

Parents face many obstacles when it comes to seeking judicial intervention in the US for the return of their children.  Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have extensive experience in cases involving international child custody disputes in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system.

Our Family Law Firm has extensive knowledge and experience with The Hague Convention which provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained in the United States may petition for the child’s return to his or her country of habitual residence. Our clients span across the entire Unites States, from Washington to Wisconsin; so you can rest assured knowing the experienced Masters Law Group attorneys are fighting for you and your family.

Check out our Featured Hague Decisions:

If you are faced with the terrifying scenario of International Parental Child Abduction, contact your trusted Chicago attorneys at Masters Law Group here today to schedule a consultation.

Help Prevent International Parental Abduction with Supervised Visitation

If you are concerned your ex partner is at flight risk overseas with your child, supervised supervision could be beneficial. Here’s what you need to know…

Following a separation or divorce, particularly when relations are acrimonious, parental child abduction cases are an important factor to consider. Child abduction cases—particularly those involving international borders—are complex and extremely time-sensitive and require immediate action.

International child abduction often occurs for several reasons. It is a very frightening experience for parents and children alike, and it can have a profound effect on the lives of everyone involved.

Here is how supervised visitation and the help of the Hague Convention could help reduce international abduction.

What is Supervised Visitation?

When a parent’s fitness is in question, a judge may order supervised visitation. This is generally done when there have been allegations of alcohol or substance abuse or domestic violence. The purpose of supervised visitation is to ensure that the parent maintains contact with the child in a safe and comfortable environment.

Supervised visitation allows a parent to visit with their child only after the child has been taken away from the other parent. The visit may take place at the parent’s home or in a designated facility, such as a child care center. In most cases, the parent who has custody of the child will report to a designated visitation center for visits. In other cases, the judge may arrange for the child to be delivered to the parent’s home. In all cases, the judge will specify who is to supervise these sessions.

These orders are meant to protect the child and may include any of the following requirements:

  • A modification or elimination of the parent’s decision-making responsibilities and/or parenting time
  • Supervision by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
  • Having an intermediary present during the exchange between parent and child, or taking place in a protected setting
  • Restricting the presence of specified persons while a parent is exercising parenting time with the child
  • Ordering a parent to refrain from possessing or consuming alcohol or drugs during (or right before) parenting time with the child
  • Restricting the presence of certain persons when a parent is spending time with the child
  • Posting a bond to secure the return of the child following the parent’s visit
  • Completing a treatment program for abuse or for any other behavior that is detrimental to the child
  • Any other constraints or conditions that the court deems necessary to provide for the child’s safety or welfare.

The biggest takeaway parents should understand is that supervised visitation is a common tool used to protect children. Parents can still maintain contact with their children, but it also forces them to prove their ability to provide adequate care. Supervised visitation, when combined with the protections provided by the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, makes it more difficult for parents to abduct internationally.

With the help from your attorney, require supervised visitation of the parent by a visitation center or independent organization until the court finds under Section 153.501 that supervised visitation is no longer necessary.

Hague Convention and What You Should Know

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international agreement that aims to prevent children from being abducted from their home country. It provides a process through which a parent can seek to have their child returned to their home country.

Several countries around the world have joined an international treaty called the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Conference on Private International Law drafted and concluded this multilateral treaty, which entered into force on December 1, 1983. In accordance with Article 3 of the Treaty, removal or retention of a child is considered wrongful “where it breaches rights of custody attributed to a person, judicial authority or other body at the time of removal or retention.”

Under the Convention, countries can help one another find solutions for difficult cases of international child abduction. This does not rely on a child’s immigration status or nationality; in certain situations, a child may be wrongfully detained in another country and therefore not a resident there. The Central Authority has the ability to do the following:

  • Be the point of contact for parents and children in international child custody cases.
  • Help locate abducted children.
  • Encourage solutions that work for both parents.
  • Submit documents as part of the application are admissible in courts in partner countries.

It is important to remember that immigration status or nationality does not determine whether a child will be returned to his or her habitual residence.

Final Thoughts

If you and your spouse are having a hard time with child custody, supervised visitation may be the best option for you. Ensuring a child’s safety should always be a number one priority for all parties involved. Especially when faced with international borders as part of a custody dispute, the court system can be very involved in resolving custody rights. 

The family law attorneys at Masters Law Group have experience with international child custody (Parenting Time) disputes. If you believe your child is in the process of being abducted by a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting on their behalf, contact us today for a consultation.

For more information on our Hague Decisions, see here: