Tag Archive for: California Hague Convention

Parental Child Abduction Precautions

The end of the year can be an emotionally taxing time, especially after a recent divorce or separation. However, it’s important to recognize this period can also be marked by increased worries about parental child abduction.

Parental child abduction involves one parent unlawfully taking their child without the consent of the other parent. This often results in a traumatic experience for all parties involved. In this blog, we will highlight the importance of holiday precautions to mitigate the risk of parental child abduction. Let’s delve into what you should know during this critical time.

Understanding Parental Child Abduction

Parental child abduction is a heart-wrenching scenario that unfolds when one parent takes their child across international or state borders without the consent of the other parent or in violation of a custody order. The end of the year is a time when parents should be vigilant. This is a time that can get hectic, especially with the holidays. Given the intricate nature of parental child abduction and its profound emotional impact, protecting your family from such a traumatic experience is of utmost importance. Let’s delve into some scenarios where parental child abduction can potentially occur.

Common Motivations for Parental Child Abduction

The holiday season can sometimes exacerbate the factors that drive parental child abduction, making it even more important to prioritize communication and legal protection during this time. Parental child abduction can have various motivations, but one common factor is changes in parenting or visitation rights. In fact, in as many as 65% of cases, abductions occur shortly after a parent’s rights in this regard have been modified.

Regardless of the motivations, parental child abduction can have severe consequences for the parties involved. Some other common factors that can drive a parent to abduct their child include:

  • Custody Disputes: Parents embroiled in heated custody battles may see abduction as a way to gain a strategic advantage in court proceedings.
  • Relocation Desires: Sometimes, a parent may desire to relocate with their child to a different area, often to sever the child’s connection with the other parent.
  • Family Conflicts: Disagreements and conflicts within extended families can occasionally escalate to the point where one parent attempts to abduct the child as a means of retaliation or control.

Understanding these motivations is crucial in preventing and addressing parental child abduction, as it allows for better preparation and intervention when needed.

Preventing Parental Child Abduction

Preventing parental child abduction requires vigilance, communication, and the implementation of practical precautions. Here are some crucial steps you can take to protect your child during the year-end holidays:

  • The continuity of the parent-child relationship is typically 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.

A parenting plan will give you and your child an added layer of protection should they be abducted. If you have concerns about potential abduction, notify law enforcement and relevant legal authorities. They can provide guidance and take action if necessary. It’s always best to consult an experienced family law attorney regarding effective travel consent letters and their limitations.

Working with a Child Abduction Lawyer

Dealing with parental child abduction, whether within the U.S. or internationally, presents significant challenges for parents and children. Seeking legal assistance is crucial in effectively navigating parental child abduction cases. When you partner with an experienced child abduction attorney, such as those at Masters Law Group, you gain the support needed to advocate for your family’s best interests. 

  • Enforcing Court Orders: If the other parent violates existing custody or visitation orders, your attorney can help you take legal action to enforce these orders.
  • Counseling and Emotional Support: Child abduction cases can be emotionally challenging for both parents and children. A compassionate child abduction attorney understands the emotional toll and can provide guidance and support throughout the legal process.
  • International Legal Network: Attorneys with experience in international child abduction cases often have extensive legal contacts worldwide. This network can be invaluable in tracking down abducting parents and ensuring that international laws are upheld.
  • Parental Reunification: In cases where a child has been taken across international borders, your attorney can facilitate the Hague Convention.

Working with a child abduction attorney is essential when dealing with parental child abduction cases. These professionals bring legal experience, emotional support, and a deep understanding of the complexities. With their help, you can better navigate the legal system and work toward a resolution that protects your family’s well-being.

Final Thoughts

Parental child abduction is a distressing issue that can have lifelong consequences for children and their left-behind parents. As we approach the year-end holiday season, families must prioritize the safety and well-being of their children.

With a strong focus on assisting clients in Chicago and Chicago’s Western Suburbs (Elmhurst, Hinsdale, DuPage, Oakbrook), Masters Law Group offers various services to help families through difficult times like Divorce and parental child abduction.

If you require legal assistance, contact a member of our legal team today. Our attorneys will work with you to develop an appropriate action plan for your unique needs and goals. We will work diligently on your behalf and provide regular updates.

Contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation.

Debunking Common Myths About The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention has gained widespread attention across the globe, yet many parents in the United States still have much to discover when it comes to its true purpose and potential in Parental Child Abduction. 

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty that many countries, including the United States, have joined.

The purpose of the Convention is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by encouraging the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence and to organize or secure the effective rights of access to a child. The idea is that custody and visitation matters should generally be decided by the proper court in the country of the child’s habitual residence.

Today, we debunk myths and show you how the convention can be beneficial. Here’s what you need to know.

Myth 1: The Hague Convention is only applicable in cases of child abduction

One of the most common misunderstandings surrounding The Hague Convention is the belief that it is limited to international child abduction cases. While it is true that the convention places significant emphasis on addressing child abduction, its reach extends far beyond this context. The Hague Convention also addresses other critical aspects related to the well-being of children.

An important objective of The Hague Convention is to swiftly return children who have been wrongfully removed or retained by one parent without the consent of the other. This provision helps ensure that children are kept from their custodial parent in a foreign jurisdiction with a proper legal basis.

Furthermore, The Hague Convention recognizes the importance of regular contact and access between children and both of their parents when living in separate nations. This provision promotes a balanced approach that seeks to preserve meaningful relationships and minimize disruptions in a child’s life.

Myth 2: The Hague Convention automatically guarantees the return of a child

Contrary to popular belief, the Hague Convention does not guarantee the automatic return of a child in all cases. However, it is essential to understand that the convention has a legal framework for facilitating the return of a child. But certain circumstances, defenses and exceptions may arise.

One exception is when there is a genuine concern of physical or psychological harm to the child if they were to be returned to their country of habitual residence. The Hague Convention recognizes the importance of the child’s well-being and safety. 

If it can be established that there is a grave risk of harm, the courts may decide not to order the child’s return, prioritizing their best interests. The convention strives to strike a delicate balance between facilitating the return of children in most cases while safeguarding their well-being and protecting their fundamental rights.

Myth 3: The Hague Convention favors mothers over fathers

Another common misconception is that the Hague Convention tends toward mothers over fathers. However, the gender-neutral convention aims to protect the child’s best interests rather than select one parent. It emphasizes the importance of maintaining regular contact between the child and both parents, assuming no risks to the child’s well-being.

The Hague Convention recognizes that children benefit from having a meaningful and ongoing relationship with both parents. It promotes the principle of shared parental responsibility and seeks to maintain regular contact between the child and both parents, irrespective of gender. The convention operates under the assumption that the involvement of both parents contributes to the child’s well-being and healthy development.

When a case arises under The Hague Convention, the focus is not on selecting one parent over the other. Ultimately, the court will determine what arrangement best serves the child’s best interests. The courts consider various factors, such as

  • The child’s age.
  • Attachments and mental stability.
  • The ability of each parent to provide a nurturing environment.

The goal is to arrive at a decision that ensures the child’s overall welfare and enables them to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents.

Myth 4: The Hague Convention is impossible to navigate

The Hague Convention can vary depending on factors such as legal representation and the case’s complexity. However, the convention also encourages countries to assist parents lacking resources, ensuring that constraints do not impede access to justice.

These central authorities are vital in facilitating communication and cooperation between the countries involved in a case. They work together to locate the child, gather necessary information, and resolve the situation quickly. The Hague Convention highlights the importance of minimizing a child’s time separated from their custodial parent. This allows them to maintain stability in their lives.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of State and an experienced Family Law Firm dedicated to International Parental Child Abduction cases can also help to enforce the safe return of your child or children.

Myth 5: The Hague Convention is universally accepted and followed by all countries

One important misconception to address is the belief that The Hague Convention is universally accepted and followed by all countries. While the convention has substantial international recognition, not all nations have ratified or acceded to its provisions. This can create complexities, particularly in cross-border child abduction cases, where one or both countries are non-signatories.

Ninety-three countries have ratified The Hague Convention, demonstrating a widespread acknowledgment of its importance in stopping international parental abduction and related matters. These countries have committed to implementing the convention’s principles and cooperating at every stage to help ensure the prompt return of abducted children.

However, it is crucial to recognize the challenges when dealing with countries that have not fully implemented The Hague Convention. In such cases, the lack of a recognized legal framework can complicate efforts to return an abducted child. This can also alter effective communication and cooperation between jurisdictions.

Final Thoughts

The Hague Convention is a critical international treaty that provides essential protection for children against the detrimental consequences of cross-border abduction and retention. It is vital to distinguish between truth and misinformation to promote a clearer understanding of the convention’s purpose. We can foster greater awareness and appreciation for The Hague Convention by dispelling misconceptions.

Voted Best Law Firm 2023, Masters Law Group is home to the best highly-experienced family law attorneys, Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph, who possess extensive knowledge in Hague law. Our dedicated team of professionals is well-equipped to navigate the intricate landscape of international law, delivering robust representation in these complex and high-stakes proceedings.

Contact our office today to schedule your consultation and gain valuable insights into your case.

Highlighted Hague Decisions:


In one of our most recent Hague Convention cases, a child was wrongly removed from his residing home in Cyprus and taken to the United States. The attorneys at Masters Law Group succeeded in this landmark ruling in favor of our client.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a crucial treaty that provides a legal framework for resolving cases of international child abduction. This convention aims to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed or retained from their country of habitual residence.

However, navigating these complex cases can be challenging, especially without the proper legal representation. At Masters Law Group, our team of Hague-experienced attorneys understands the intricacies of this International law treaty and can provide comprehensive support to families facing international child abduction matters.

In this recent case, the husband – represented by Masters Law Group –  filed a petition for the return of his child who was taken from his residence in Cyprus to the United States by his wife – the mother of the child.  The Hague Convention provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed or retained in the United States may petition for the child’s return to his or her country of habitual residence.


The ex-husband filed a petition for the return of his child, a 12 year-old who was visiting his mother in the state of California. This case arises under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act. 22 U.S.C. § 9001 et seq., which implements the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Act entitles a person whose child has been wrongfully removed from his custody in another country and taken to the United States to petition in federal or state court for the return of the child.

In December 2022, the court held a five-day bench trial. The parties had stipulated that the 12-year old had been wrongfully retained under the convention. The trial focused on two affirmative defenses which were ‘grave risk’ and ‘mature child’ defenses.


In this case, the child had lived most of his life in Cyprus. His father had full custody of him since his parents’ separation in 2014. Last summer of 2022, the minor came to the United States for a six-week visit with his mother in California. At the end of the visit, his father came to collect his son but was unsuccessful. The 12-year old has autism and had become determined not to return to Cyprus. Furthermore, his mother refused to turn him over when she was legally obliged to.

Nearly one week after the scheduled meet up went awry, the father filed a Hague Convention petition. The Court observed the 12-year old in chambers, where he answered questions from the Court and counsel for both sides without his parents present. The 12-year old was understandably subdued, but he was composed and calm through several hours of questions from strangers. That time observing the child, (after having had the benefit of testimony and reports from the experts) confirmed that he is on the Autism spectrum.


Both the United States and Cyprus are signatories to the Hague Convention. It is implemented in the United States by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act. 22 U.S.C. §§ 9001 et seq. District courts have concurrent original jurisdiction over actions brought under ICARA. § 9003(a)–(b).

In adjudicating a petition under the Hague Convention, a court may only decide whether the child should be returned to their country of habitual residence. Both the treaty and the statute explicitly preclude courts from making a final custody determination.

The question at hand was where any further custody dispute over the child should play out, not whether living in one country or the other, or with one parent or the other, would be in his best interests.

Both parties agreed that Cyprus was his country of habitual residence at that time; and that the ex-husband was exercising his custody rights as entered by a Cypriot court. Dkt. No. 42. 

The final part of the Convention’s grave-risk exception states that a Court may decline to return a child if it would place the child in an “intolerable situation.” Convention art. 13(b). Exactly what beyond physical or psychological harm would constitute an “intolerable situation” is unclear. It was concluded the child’s life in Cyprus with his father was not intolerable.


In summary, the court granted the petition and ordered the child to return to Cyprus in the custody of his father. In addition, the Court will not impose a longer stay without agreement from both sides. As the Court is ordering the return of a child pursuant to an action under 22 U.S.C. § 9003, it is required to order the respondent to pay necessary expenses incurred by the petitioner—including legal fees and transportation costs related to the return of the child—unless the respondent establishes that such order would be clearly inappropriate. § 9007(b)(3).



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.

Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph 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”) 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.


If you are faced with instituting or defending child abduction proceedings under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction involving the United States, work with the experienced lawyers at Masters Law Group. Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.

Hague Convention – International Child Abduction California

International Parental Child Abduction is on the rise. 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 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 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.