Tag Archive for: Hague attorney

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.

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:

International Child Abduction Facts

Parental child abduction cases are, unfortunately, a factor to consider following a separation or divorce, particularly when relations between the parents are acrimonious. Child abduction cases, particularly across international borders, are complex and extremely time-sensitive. Here are  some facts you should know if you’re facing such a case.

“Desiring to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention…as well as to secure protection for rights of access.”

–Hague Abduction Convention, Preamble

International child abduction happens for a number of reasons. Child abduction can be a very frightening experience to the parents involved and of course to the children. International parental child abduction is an act of illegally taking a child from their home usually by one of the parents across international borders; but it can also be done by an acquaintance or another member of the family.

International child abduction is actually on the rise and many investigation offices have open cases in all 80 countries the Hague Convention applies to. Here’s what you need to know about this growing problem. 

WHY THE HAGUE CONVENTION IS IMPORTANT

Firstly, what is The Hague Convention? 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, the Convention is needed. U.S. court orders may not be recognized in other countries, and sovereign nations cannot interfere with each other’s legal systems, judiciaries, or law enforcement.

CONVENTION FRAMEWORK

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 when the 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.

Presenting a custody order is not needed to prove that a parents custodial rights were violated when the child was taken from their country; this can be proven by showing proof of parenthood or marriage. When a child is returned to his/her habitual residence, it does not depend on the immigration status/or nationality of a child or his or her parents.

Family Abductions are More Common than you Think

When parents report that their children have been abducted or retained outside of the United States, country officers inform them of potential options and provide resources to help them seek the return of, or access to, their children. 

Some years, family abductions make up as much as 90% of abductions that occur, especially by parents. This usually happens in homes where the parents are separated, divorced, or estranged and is more common in lower-income households and during custody disputes. 

If your child wasn’t taken by a family member, the odds are that it was done by someone you know. 

A Fraction of 1% of Child Abductions is Total Strangers

About 100 children a year are abducted by total strangers as you hear on the news, so it’s exceedingly rare for a child to disappear this way. While this is the rarest, it is also the least likely that your child will come home if they are taken by a total stranger. Out of the approximately 100 kids a year that are taken this way, only 50 come back.

In 2020, country officers responded to 157 initial inquiries in which parents sought information and resources regarding parental abductions, but did not proceed with providing complete documentation. Country officers handled 664 total outgoing abduction cases, including 246 cases opened in 2020. Of those cases,129 were resolved with the return of 185 abducted children to the United States.

Final Thoughts

Nothing can make a parent feel more helpless than having a child taken away to, or held in, a foreign jurisdiction. If you believe your child is in the process of being abducted by a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting on their behalf, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Masters Law Group.

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.

Our Featured Hague Decisions:

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

International Parental Abduction

International parental child abduction is an act of illegally taking a child from their home. Usually by one of the parents, but it can also be done by an acquaintance or another member of the family, and taking him to another county. Here’s what you need to know about this growing problem. 

When parents report that their children have been abducted or retained outside of the United States, country officers inform them of potential options and provide resources to help them seek the return of, or access to, their children. International Parental Abduction is more common than you think.

In 2020, country officers responded to 157 initial inquiries in which parents sought information and resources regarding abductions, but did not proceed with providing complete documentation. Country officers handled 664 total outgoing abduction cases, including 246 cases opened in 2020. Of those cases,129 were resolved with the return of 185 abducted children to the United States.

Here’s a look at the Hague Abduction Convention, and what you should know about International Parental Abduction.

Is Your Child at Risk for An International Abduction?

There’s certain traits and characteristics of offending parents that make it easier to spot if they are capable of abduction your child. It is important to remember that these signs do not necessarily mean that your child’s other parent is going to abduct your child; these are signs that you need to make sure you are being more aware of. Here are some examples below:

  • Parents who threaten to abduct their children and/or have abducted their children before.
  • Parents who believe their children are being abused and have a support group that also believes this.
  • Parents with paranoia or sociopathic tendencies.
  • Parents with strong ties and family support in another country.
  • Parents frustrated with the legal system in the United States who have supportive family and friends.

It’s not unusual for a parent who abducts their child to believe that they know what is best for the child. Young children are the easiest to abduct because they don’t know to go for help or do anything to bring attention to their parents taking them.  Some other warning signs and factors that are important to be aware of are:

  • A parent with no source of income/job.
  • A parent who is financially independent.
  • A parent with no real ties to the community they live in.
  • A parent who abruptly quits their job, sells their home, applies for passports.
  • A parent who starts collecting the child’s medical and school records.
  • A parent who has domestic violence and/or child abuse history.

Protecting Your Child From International Parental Abduction

When developing a child custody order, it is important that the order be very specific in regard to the rights of each parent. You should avoid vague phrases like “reasonable visitation” because the word reasonable can be interpreted differently.. Joint custody should also be avoided if there has been any history of abduction or the risk of abduction is high.  

Your court order should include why the court has jurisdiction in the matter of your child and state that both parents were given the opportunity to present their case to the court regarding custody. In order for your court order to be able to be enforced nationwide, the court’s exercise of their jurisdiction has to comply with the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA).

Your court order can specify that your child is not allowed to leave the state you reside in without written consent from the other parent.  

The court order can also ban a parent from applying for a passport for your child.  If your child already has a passport, the court can require that the passport be surrendered. If you have information that your child would most likely be taken to a specific country, you can notify that embassy or consulate and provide them with the court order to request any visa requests for your child be denied.

If the risk to your child being abducted by their other parent is high, the court is typically more likely to put protections in the court order to prevent abduction. The court looks at the following factors: risk of abduction is high, recovering the child would be very difficult, and the abduction would be harmful to the child.

Some additional steps to lower the risk of parental abduction or increase your odds recovering your child if they are abducted would be:

  • Have up-to-date pictures of your child.
  • Have a written detailed description of your child including: height, weight, hair color, eye color, birthmarks, and noticeable physical characteristics.
  • Copies of your child’s Social Security card and passport.
  • Fingerprints of your child.
  • Have your child/children learn how to use a telephone and how to call the police.
  • Keep schools, daycares, and other child care providers informed of current custody orders.
  • Register your child with the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP).

International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA)


The International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), is a multi-lateral treaty developed by the Hague Convention on Private International Law.

ICARA is United States federal law that implements the HAC between American states and American states internationally with other countries.  It went into effect in 1988.

When a child is alleged removed from his/her habitual residence, or a parent is not allowed his/her visitation with a child under a previous legal agreement, that child’s parent can now bring an action in local court under ICARA.  After a showing of the other parent’s wrongdoing, the alleged wrongdoer must show to the court one of the following:

  • that the person requesting the return of the child was not actually exercising custody’ at the time of the removal or retention;
  • that the person requesting the return of the child had consented to or acquiesced in the removal or retention;
  • that more than one year has passed from the time of wrongful removal or retention until the date of the commencement of judicial or administrative proceedings;
  • that the child is old enough and has a sufficient degree of maturity to knowingly object to the person requesting the return of the child, and that it is appropriate to heed that objection;
  • 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; or
  • that return of the child would subject the child to violation of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Attempting to have one’s child returned to his/her care or to be able to exercise one’s visitation rights either by state to state or from state to an international country is very complicated.  It is highly recommended that a professional family law attorney be retained to navigate the legalities involved.

Child Custody and Visitation Matters


With the exception of international parental abduction, child custody and visitation matters are handled by local and state authorities, and not by the federal government. The matters are governed by the relevant state family court system and human services agency. Therefore, child custody or visitation issues should be reported to state or local law enforcement authorities or a state judicial officer.

In addition to contacting the Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues, law enforcement or left-behind parents should also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (“NCMEC”): www.missingkids.org. NCMEC works closely with the State Department and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime and administers its Victim Reunification Travel Program. Eligible parents can request financial assistance so they can be reunited with a child located in another country or obtain travel support for the child’s return to the United States.

Finally, seeking a family law firm who are highly experienced in cases involving international child custody disputes (in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system) could be an invaluable resource in this incredibly stressful time.

Additional Resources on International Parental Abduction

Final Thoughts

Many countries throughout the world, including the United States, belong to the Hague Convention, and will negotiate treaties to help streamline international justice. When family law disputes cross international boundaries, it is essential to have the help from a knowledgeable family law attorney who understands all of the legalities that go along with international child custody cases.

Our attorneys, 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”). 

See Our Featured Hague Decisions Here:

Contact us here today to learn more.

MASTERS LAW GROUP CASE REVIEW: HAGUE CONVENTION ON CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION: NEW ZEALAND

In one of our most recent Hague Convention cases, the attorneys at Masters Law Group succeeded in this landmark ruling in favor of our client.

The husband – represented by Masters Law Group –  filed a petition for the return of his child who was taken from his residence in New Zealand to the United States by his wife – the mother of the child. As relevant here, 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.

CASE OVERVIEW

On June 18, 2020, Respondent and the child traveled on round-trip tickets from New Zealand to Chicago, via Los Angeles, for a one-month trip. Respondent and the child had tickets to return to New Zealand on July 17, 2020, via Los Angeles, arriving in New Zealand on July 19, 2020 via Air New Zealand. The Petitioner worried and speculated to the Respondent that she might not come back from the United States with their child, despite her denials of leaving permanently. The Respondent did not get on the flights back to New Zealand with their son.

This case arises under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 42 U.S.C. § 11601 et seq., which implements the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The Act entitles a person whose child has been 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.

CASE RESULTS

By agreement of the parties and as required by the Convention, the Court Court concludes that the child was a habitual resident of New Zealand at the time of the wrongful retention in the United States, Petitioner had and was exercising custody rights under New Zealand law, and the “grave risk” exception was not established in this case.

Accordingly, the Court finds that the child must be returned to New Zealand, and grants the Petition for return of the child, [dkt. 1].

The Court allowed an approximate one-week time period to avoid any abrupt transition for the child.

READ THE FULL CASE REVIEW HERE.

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HAGUE CONVENTION – INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION LAW WITH MASTERS LAW GROUP

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.

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION

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