Tag Archive for: Defenses of the Hague Convention

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:

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.