Hague Lawyer USA

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.