Demystifying the Hague Convention: Essential FAQs Answered

The nightmare of having your child taken across borders is a frightening reality for a growing number of parents across the globe. Under the Hague Convention, solutions are provided for parents who seek the return of their child to their country of habitual residence.

International Parental Child Abduction is an act of illegally taking a child from their residing home by one of the parents across international borders. If you suspect the possible scenario of International Parental Child Abduction in your family, here are some questions and answers that can provide valuable insight.

1. What is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA). This law provides help to parents whose child or children have been wrongfully removed from or retained in their custody. They may petition for the child’s return to their country of habitual residence.

This Hague treaty was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and entered into force in December 1983. There are over 93 countries that participate in the treaty. This treaty governs the way other countries’ legal systems work together. There were two specific goals in mind at the time of The Hague Services Convention’s formation:

  • Create a means to help ensure 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.

2. What Is “Wrongful Removal” Under The Hague Convention?

Deciding whether to file a Hague application is a big decision. It depends on the specific circumstances of each case. A wrongful removal or retention of a child is considered illegal if it violates your custodial rights and you were exercising those rights at the time of the removal or retention.

In order for the Hague Convention to apply, it must have been in force between the two countries when the wrongful removal occurred. When a country joins the Convention, it doesn’t automatically partner with all countries that have ratified or joined it. Instead, countries must accept another country’s accession to the Convention before forming a treaty partnership.

3. How Can A Hague Lawyer Help?

A Hague Convention lawyer has experience handling cases related to international child abduction and custody disputes governed by the Hague Convention. They possess in-depth knowledge of the Convention’s provisions, procedures, and legal precedents, enabling them to navigate the complexities of your case effectively. Here’s how a Hague lawyer can assist you:

  • International Legal Aid: Hague lawyers often have established networks of lawyers and resources worldwide, facilitating communication and collaboration across international borders.
  • Negotiation and Mediation: A Hague lawyer can represent your interests during negotiations. Reaching an amicable resolution through negotiation or mediation is preferable to lengthy court proceedings.
  • Court Representation: If your case proceeds to court, your Hague lawyer will advocate on your behalf, presenting compelling arguments and evidence to support your child’s return to their country of habitual residence.

4. How Long Is The Hague Convention Process?

Contrary to common belief, the Hague Convention doesn’t guarantee the automatic return of a child in every case. While it provides a legal framework for facilitating such returns, various circumstances, defenses, and exceptions may complicate matters. Some cases can be resolved relatively quickly, within weeks or months.

While others may drag on longer, especially if they involve complex legal proceedings or appeals, one exception is when there are genuine concerns about the child’s safety or well-being. In such cases, the Hague Convention prioritizes the child’s welfare and safety. Working with a Hague lawyer can help you understand what steps to take to get the swift and safe return of your child.

5. What Steps Should I Take If My Child Has Been Wrongfully Taken?

Discovering that your child has been wrongfully taken across borders is a harrowing experience. Acting swiftly and decisively is crucial if you are in this unfortunate situation. Here are essential steps to consider as you navigate this distressing ordeal:

  • Consult with a Hague Lawyer: Seek legal advice from a Hague Convention lawyer. They can assess your case and guide you through the legal process.
  • File a Hague Application: Depending on your country of residence, you may need to apply the Hague Convention through the appropriate central authority. Your lawyer can assist you with completing and submitting the necessary documentation.
  • Gather Evidence: Collect evidence supporting your claim. This includes documentation of your custody rights, evidence of the child’s habitual residence, and communication with the other party regarding the abduction.
  • Cooperate with Authorities: Work closely with law enforcement, central authorities, and Hague lawyers involved in your case. Provide them with any requested information or assistance to facilitate the prompt resolution.

Finding Legal Representation

Selecting a Hague lawyer familiar with state, federal, and international laws is crucial. Masters Law Group attorneys Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have years of experience handling Hague Convention cases. Our experience in the Hague Convention field shows our competence in providing legal counsel for these stressful scenarios.

For more information, here are a few of our highlighted Hague Convention cases:

Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.