Tag Archive for: hague cases

Do Parental Responsibilities Fall Under The Hague Convention?

Parental responsibility cases can be emotionally challenging and legally complex, especially when situations arise that involve parental child abduction. When family disputes span across national or international borders, the Hague Convention can prove a valuable resource for the parent left behind.

While the main goal of the Hague Convention is to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any country (which is not the child’s country of habitual residence), it does not affect or impact the decision-making process regarding custody issues (allocation of parental responsibilities), nor does it focus on the underlying merits of a custody dispute. Rather, it determines under what circumstances a child should be returned to a country for custody proceedings under that country’s laws.

Understanding how this convention applies to parental responsibility cases is crucial for parents recently filing for divorce or separation who have international connections. Unfortunately, some parents never accept the divorce and purposely cause problems, sometimes by taking their child far away from the other parent. 


In Illinois, the landscape of parental arrangements has evolved. “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” includes the division of decision-making responsibility, previously known as “legal custody,” and parenting time, previously known as “visitation,” amongst the parties.  Parenting plans outline the schedule dictating a child’s interactions with each parent after a divorce or separation. 

Without a parenting plan, no official documentation exists specifying where a child should be at any given time. This legal void can lead to situations where parents can, without repercussion, abandon their children or take them away without the explicit consent of the other parent. In the state of Illinois, according to 720 ILCS Sec. 10-5(b)(6), a parent can abduct their child if, absent a custodial order/parenting plan, “knowingly conceals” a child “for 15 days and fails to make reasonable attempts within the 15 days to notify the other parent.” Let’s take a look at how Illinois grants custody.


Approximately 40% of states in the United States strive to provide equal custody time for both parents. Courts consider the child’s best interests when determining parenting arrangements. They aim to confirm that the child maintains a strong and healthy relationship with both parents.

They consider the child’s age, needs, and each parent’s ability to provide a safe environment. The court may select a mother over a father if the father negatively impacts the child or vice versa. Having clear guidelines and agreements can help establish stability and promote effective co-parenting. If you are a parent facing international parental child abduction, or feel your family is at risk of such an event, let’s look at how the Hague Convention could help.


As previously mentioned, the Convention does not affect or impact the decision-making process regarding custody issues (allocation of parental responsibilities), nor does it focus on the underlying merits of a custody dispute. However, it aims to secure the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed to or retained in any contracting state and distinguishes between the remedies available to protect “rights of custody” and “rights of access.”

  • “Rights of custody” includes rights relating to the care of the child and the right to determine the child’s place of residence.
  • “Rights of access” includes the right to take the child for a period of time – Article 5(a).

The Convention protects rights of access without an order of return, but in some circumstances, an “access parent” may be considered to hold rights of custody and thus be entitled to an order for the child’s return under the Convention.


The Hague Convention sets out clear procedures for determining where the child normally lives and dealing with wrongful removal or retention cases. Each country appoints central authorities to resolve disputes, and courts in both the child’s home country and the country where they’re in decide on the best course of action. 

If the Convention states if the removal or retention was wrongful, then the court must order the child returned to his or her habitual residence for a custody determination, unless the responding parent (the parent who removed or retained the child ) can establish one of the following:

  1. More than one year has passed since the wrongful removal or retention and the child is settled in his or her new environment
  2. The petitioning parent was not actually exercising custody rights at the time of the removal or retention
  3. The petitioning parent had consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention
  4. The child objects to being returned and is of an age and maturity level at which it is appropriate to take account of his or her views
  5. There is a “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
  6. The return of the child would be inconsistent with “fundamental principles … relating to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Overall, the Hague Convention helps maintain stability and consistency in parenting arrangements while protecting the rights of children and parents involved in cross-border disputes.


Parents often face hurdles when dealing with international parenting disputes. One of the most significant challenges is simply navigating another country’s legal system. This can involve language barriers, unfamiliar legal procedures, and cultural differences, making it difficult for parents to advocate for their rights effectively. 

Additionally, parents may struggle to locate and communicate with their children, especially if the other parent is hiding them. In some cases, parents may also face obstacles related to travel, such as visa restrictions or prohibitive travel costs. International parental responsibility cases can be highly stressful and emotionally taxing for parents. That’s why having the right support and guidance is essential throughout the process.


The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction can be a valuable resource for resolving abduction cases involving international borders, prioritizing their well-being. 

But to navigate these complex cases successfully, seeking legal counsel with knowledge and experience in Hague proceedings is extremely valuable. Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have extensive experience in cases involving international parental disputes in courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system. 

Our profound understanding and proficiency with The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“The Hague Convention”), enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”), empowers us to help advocate thoroughly and effectively. 

Highlighted Hague Decisions:

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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:

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