Tag Archive for: Hague Convention Lawyer

Hague Convention – International Child Abduction – San Francisco

When San Francisco courts determine custody arrangements, they ultimately consider the best interests of the child involved. However, a custody agreement can get extremely complex when the issues are international. 

The Hague Convention was enacted to protect children from international abduction and to return children to their home country residence. It also includes child custody conflicts when a parent or guardian resides in a different country to the home country of the child.

If you’re in need of legal representation to protect your rights or the rights of your child, Masters Law Group can help. We can represent parents and children in a variety of complex international abduction cases. 

Here’s everything you need to know about international abduction cases and the Hague Convention in San Francisco. 

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is a treaty that works 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. A number of counties have joined this treaty which was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and officially entered into force in December 1983. 

According to the Convention, the removal or retention of a child is “wrongful” when it breaches custody rights attributed to a person or any other body. Even if a parent already has legal custody of the child, the Convention is needed to return the child back to their habitual residence. 

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 if the child is wrongfully removed from their habitual home and are now living in a foreign country. 

Presenting a custody order is not needed to prove that a parent’s custodial rights were violated when the child was taken from their country. This can be proven by showing proof of parenthood. 

Filing a Hague Application in San Francisco

Whether or not the Hague Convention is an appropriate solution for you depends on a variety of factors. Perhaps after separating from their partner, a parent wants to take their child and move to another country. Another situation may be that a parent moved internationally in violation of a custody agreement. It’s important to know that filing a case under the Hague Convention does not automatically guarantee the child will be returned. 

To obtain the return of the child, it must be proven that:

  • The child was habitually resident in one Convention country and was removed to or retained in another Convention country.
  • The removal or retention of the child is considered wrongful and was in violation of custodial rights, and those rights were exercised at the time of removal or retention.
  • The Convention must have been in force between the two countries at the time of the wrongful removal or retention. 
  • The child is under the age of 16.

If a court decides the child must be returned to its country of habitual residence, they may make the return contingent upon certain obligations from the petitioning parents. This might include: 

  • Paying for the travel of the respondent and child to the country where the child habitually resides.
  • Arranging housing or paying for living expenses for the respondent and child in the country of the child’s habitual residence. 
  • An order that the petitioner have no contact with the respondent if the respondent returns to the country of the child’s habitual residence. 
  • An order that the petitioner will have no contact or limited contact with the child once the child returns to the country of the habitual residence. 

Getting the Legal Help You Need in San Francisco

High-stakes international child abduction cases require experienced, knowledgeable and fast-acting attorneys. Your lawyer should be ready to file a Hague Convention application and institute or defend a Hague Convention lawsuit on short notice.

Our attorneys at Masters Law Group have extensive experience in international child abduction cases.  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 our clients in these high-stakes proceedings. 

Contact Masters Law Group Today

The award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group have successfully represented clients in such cases across the country and globe; including Hague cases across the United States and Internationally in New Zealand, but to name a few.

Contact us to schedule your consultation here today.

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.

Masters Law Group Recognized in the 2023 Edition of “Best Lawyers in America”

Masters Law Group is a Chicago family and divorce law firm focused on solving problems and achieving the best possible result for our clients. We’re proud of our industry achievements, now including being recognized for professional excellence in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in two categories.

As part of the 2023 selection of distinguished firms, Masters Law Group was regionally ranked in two practice areas, Family Law and Family Law Mediation. 

Best Lawyers in America is the oldest and one of the most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.

This recognition honors the professional accomplishments of the top tier legal talent in the country who were selected by their peers through Best Lawyers’ rigorous and peer-reviewed selection process. More than 12.2 million evaluations were analyzed, resulting in the recognition of only 5.3% of lawyers in the United States. Achieving this recognition signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

Masters Law Group is delighted to once again receive such recognition. 

About Masters Law Group

Located in Chicago, Illinois, Masters Law Group handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. Masters Law Group concentrates in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and related family matters.

Our recent recognitions in Family Law and Family Law Mediation highlights our experience, dedication and talent in these fields.

Our Attorneys

Best Family Law Attorney

Erin E. Masters (Attorney / Family Law Mediator) and Anthony G. Joseph (Attorney / Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representative) both have extensive experience and knowledge in family law and family law mediation.

Ms. Masters’ recent recognitions include in Family Law and Family Law Mediation, and has represented a variety of clients, both pre-decree and post-decree. 

“We are honored that Masters Law Group has been recognized by Best Lawyers® for the sixth consecutive year.” commented Managing Partner Erin Masters. “We thank all our fellow attorneys in the Chicago Metropolitan area for including us in this prestigious list as well as our attorneys and staff for their hard work and dedication in serving our clients.”

In addition to representing clients, Ms. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, she has also been appointed by the Circuit Court of Cook County to mediate complex family law cases.

2023 Best Lawyers

Anthony G. Joseph has been recognized for his excellence in Family Law and is an active trial lawyer whose practice focuses exclusively on Family Law and on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. He has an emphasis on International Child Abduction and cross-border custody issues pursuant to the Hague Convention of 1980 and the UCCJEA. Mr. Joseph also publishes in the area of civil litigation.

WORK WITH THE BEST

With a long history of awarded recognitions in Family Law, Masters Law Group LLC has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field.

Masters Law Group is dedicated to understanding your individual needs and helping you work through stressful situations in the Family Law and Divorce fields. They move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with their clients’ assurance and well being in mind.

Schedule a consultation here to speak with an experienced attorney regarding your family law matter today.

 

 

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.

Help Prevent International Parental Abduction with Supervised Visitation

If you are concerned your ex partner is at flight risk overseas with your child, supervised supervision could be beneficial. Here’s what you need to know…

Following a separation or divorce, particularly when relations are acrimonious, parental child abduction cases are an important factor to consider. Child abduction cases—particularly those involving international borders—are complex and extremely time-sensitive and require immediate action.

International child abduction often occurs for several reasons. It is a very frightening experience for parents and children alike, and it can have a profound effect on the lives of everyone involved.

Here is how supervised visitation and the help of the Hague Convention could help reduce international abduction.

What is Supervised Visitation?

When a parent’s fitness is in question, a judge may order supervised visitation. This is generally done when there have been allegations of alcohol or substance abuse or domestic violence. The purpose of supervised visitation is to ensure that the parent maintains contact with the child in a safe and comfortable environment.

Supervised visitation allows a parent to visit with their child only after the child has been taken away from the other parent. The visit may take place at the parent’s home or in a designated facility, such as a child care center. In most cases, the parent who has custody of the child will report to a designated visitation center for visits. In other cases, the judge may arrange for the child to be delivered to the parent’s home. In all cases, the judge will specify who is to supervise these sessions.

These orders are meant to protect the child and may include any of the following requirements:

  • A modification or elimination of the parent’s decision-making responsibilities and/or parenting time
  • Supervision by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
  • Having an intermediary present during the exchange between parent and child, or taking place in a protected setting
  • Restricting the presence of specified persons while a parent is exercising parenting time with the child
  • Ordering a parent to refrain from possessing or consuming alcohol or drugs during (or right before) parenting time with the child
  • Restricting the presence of certain persons when a parent is spending time with the child
  • Posting a bond to secure the return of the child following the parent’s visit
  • Completing a treatment program for abuse or for any other behavior that is detrimental to the child
  • Any other constraints or conditions that the court deems necessary to provide for the child’s safety or welfare.

The biggest takeaway parents should understand is that supervised visitation is a common tool used to protect children. Parents can still maintain contact with their children, but it also forces them to prove their ability to provide adequate care. Supervised visitation, when combined with the protections provided by the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, makes it more difficult for parents to abduct internationally.

With the help from your attorney, require supervised visitation of the parent by a visitation center or independent organization until the court finds under Section 153.501 that supervised visitation is no longer necessary.

Hague Convention and What You Should Know

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international agreement that aims to prevent children from being abducted from their home country. It provides a process through which a parent can seek to have their child returned to their home country.

Several countries around the world have joined an international treaty called the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Conference on Private International Law drafted and concluded this multilateral treaty, which entered into force on December 1, 1983. In accordance with Article 3 of the Treaty, removal or retention of a child is considered wrongful “where it breaches rights of custody attributed to a person, judicial authority or other body at the time of removal or retention.”

Under the Convention, countries can help one another find solutions for difficult cases of international child abduction. This does not rely on a child’s immigration status or nationality; in certain situations, a child may be wrongfully detained in another country and therefore not a resident there. The Central Authority has the ability to 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.

It is important to remember that immigration status or nationality does not determine whether a child will be returned to his or her habitual residence.

Final Thoughts

If you and your spouse are having a hard time with child custody, supervised visitation may be the best option for you. Ensuring a child’s safety should always be a number one priority for all parties involved. Especially when faced with international borders as part of a custody dispute, the court system can be very involved in resolving custody rights. 

The family law attorneys at Masters Law Group have experience with international child custody (Parenting Time) disputes. If you believe your child is in the process 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 Hague Decisions, see here:

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.

Who Does the Hague Convention Apply To?

If you believe you might be facing the terrifying situation of International Child Abduction, you will need to determine whether the Hague Convention treaty is “in force” between the U.S. and the other country involved. 

In a nutshell, the Hague Abduction Convention is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions. An application may be made when a child is taken or retained across an international border, away from his or her habitual residence, without the consent of a parent who has rights of custody under the law of the habitual residence, if the two countries are parties to the Convention. The child must be promptly returned to the habitual residence unless the return will create a grave risk of harm to the child or another limited exception is established.

The Convention has the child’s best interest, and provides a shared civil remedy among partner countries. Depending on where your child was taken determines whether the Convention is “in force” between nations. It is therefore important to determine whether the Convention is in force with the particular country in question and when the Convention went into force between the U.S. and the other country.

HAGUE CONVENTION & ITS BACKGROUND

The Hague Convention is essentially a treaty that many countries, along with the US have joined. On May 29, 1993, the Convention established international standards of practices for intercountry adoptions. The United States signed the Convention in 1994, and the Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008. 

How do you determine whether the treaty is “in force” between the U.S. and the other country involved? The Federal Judicial Center explains with the following:

‘The issue of whether the Convention is “in force” between states can be complex. There are differences in the processes by which a state can be bound by the treaty, specifically between those who are “member states” and those who become “party states.” 

Member states are states that were members of The Hague Conference on Private International Law at the time of adoption of the Child Abduction Convention at the 14th Session in 1980.

The differences between the two is the following:

  • Actions by member states include ratifications, approvals, or acceptances.
  • Party states are all other countries that agree to be bound by the Convention and “accede” to the Convention.

For member states, the ratification by one member state causes the convention to automatically come into force between that ratifying member state and all other previously ratifying member states. However, when a member state ratifies the Convention, the Convention does not automatically enter into force between that state and a party state that has acceded to the convention.

The treaty “enters into force” between two countries when they are both bound by the Convention. In order for the Convention to enter into force between a member state and a party state, the member state must expressly accept the accession by the party state. 

The same applies to the accession of one party state vis-á-vis another acceding party state; that is, the accession must be specifically accepted by the previously acceding party state.’

101 states are a party to the convention. Like extradition treaties, some countries that have signed a Hague Convention treaty with the United States are noncompliant or refuse to hold up the terms of the treaty.

LIST OF U.S HAGUE CONVENTION TREATY PARTNERS

Below are the countries that participate in the Hague Convention and are “in force” with the United States of America. You can find the official list with dates and more here.

country pop2022 hagueConventionEntryDate
Andorra 77.463 1/1/2017
Argentina 46010.234 6/1/1991
Armenia 2971.966 3/1/2018
Australia 26068.792 7/1/1988
Austria 9066.71 10/1/1988
Bahamas 400.516 1/1/1994
Belgium 11668.278 5/1/1999
Belize 412.19 11/1/1989
Bosnia and Herzegovina 3249.317 12/1/1991
Brazil 215353.593 12/1/2003
Bulgaria 6844.597 2005/01//01
Burkina Faso 22102.838 11/1/1992
Canada 38388.419 7/1/1988
Chile 19250.195 7/1/1994
Colombia 51512.762 6/1/1996
Costa Rica 5182.354 1/1/2008
Croatia 4059.286 12/1/1991
Cyprus 1223.387 3/1/1995
Czech Republic 10736.784 3/1/1998
Denmark 5834.95 7/1/1991
Dominican Republic 11056.37 6/1/2007
Ecuador 18113.361 4/1/1992
El Salvador 6550.389 6/1/2007
Estonia 1321.91 5/1/2007
Fiji 909.466 5/1/2017
Finland 5554.96 8/1/1994
France 65584.518 7/1/1988
Germany 83883.596 12/1/1990
Greece 10316.637 6/1/1993
Guatemala 18584.039 1/1/2008
Honduras 10221.247 6/1/1994
Hong Kong 7604.299 9/1/1997
Hungary 9606.259 7/1/1988
Iceland 345.393 12/1/1996
Ireland 5020.199 10/1/1991
Israel 8922.892 12/1/1991
Italy 60262.77 5/1/1995
Jamaica 2985.094 4/1/2019
Japan 125584.838 4/1/2014
Latvia 1848.837 5/1/2007
Lithuania 2661.708 5/1/2007
Luxembourg 642.371 7/1/1988
Macau 667.49 3/1/1999
Malta 444.033 2/1/2003
Mauritius 1274.727 10/1/1993
Mexico 131562.772 10/1/1991
Monaco 39.783 6/1/1993
Montenegro 627.95 12/1/1991
Morocco 37772.756 12/1/2012
Netherlands 17211.447 9/1/1990
New Zealand 4898.203 10/1/1991
Norway 5511.37 4/1/1989
Panama 4446.964 6/1/1994
Paraguay 7305.843 1/1/2008
Peru 33684.208 6/1/2007
Poland 37739.785 11/1/1992
Portugal 10140.57 7/1/1988
Romania 19031.335 6/1/1993
Saint Kitts and Nevis 53.871 6/1/1995
San Marino 34.085 1/1/2008
Serbia 8653.016 12/1/1991
Singapore 5943.546 5/1/2012
Slovakia 5460.193 2/1/2001
Slovenia 2078.034 4/1/1995
South Africa 60756.135 11/1/1997
South Korea 51329.899 11/1/2013
Spain 46719.142 7/1/1988
Sri Lanka 21575.842 1/1/2008
Sweden 10218.971 6/1/1989
Switzerland 8773.637 7/1/1988
Thailand 70078.203 4/1/2016
Trinidad and Tobago 1406.585 8/1/2013
Turkey 85561.976 8/1/2000
Ukraine 43192.122 9/1/2007
United Kingdom 68497.907 7/1/1988
Uruguay 3496.016 9/1/2004
Venezuela 29266.991 1/1/1997
Zimbabwe 15331.428 8/1/1995

Export the list here. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Most of the world, including the United States, belongs to the Hague Convention, and they 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 laws that go along with 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”) 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. 

Browse Our Featured Hague Decisions:

Contact us here today to set up a complimentary consultation.

 

What Happens if I File for Divorce in Illinois but my Child Lives Somewhere Else?

While it is fairly common for someone to move to a different state once they separate from their spouse, doing so can present potential difficulties when formally filing. Add children to the mix, and the situation rapidly becomes more complex. Here’s what you need to know. 

All states require that the spouse who files for divorce be a resident of the state in which they file their divorce petition.  If you’re seeking an Illinois divorce and have children, you may be wondering what the proper steps are to take. You may also want to know how you can get full custody in Illinois, and what criteria a judge uses to determine a child’s best interests.

Here, Masters Law Group provides an overview of Illinois custody laws and answers to common questions about custody in Illinois, cross-border custody, and international custody matters via the Hague Convention. If you have additional questions after reading this article, contact your trusted law attorneys at Masters Law Group. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

Establishing Child Custody in Illinois

The term “custody” is no longer used in the law. It is now called “parental responsibilities.” This includes parenting time (formerly “visitation”) and decision-making power.

Divorcing parents who live in Illinois will receive an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities/custody order as part of their divorce case. Things can get complicated if parents live in different states or a parent has recently moved into or out of the state. Before an Illinois judge can issue a custody order, the Illinois court must have jurisdiction over your case.

In order to avoid conflicting custody opinions from courts in different states, a law called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) sets the rules on which court has jurisdiction. 

Among other things, the UCCJEA determines which state is the child’s “home state” for custody matters. Courts in the home state have jurisdiction over custody litigation involving that child and are the only ones that can hear a custody case for that child.

Illinois has jurisdiction to hear a child custody case if:

  • The child has lived in Illinois for the last six months.
  • The child lives out of state, but lived in Illinois within the past six months and one of the child’s parents still lives in the state.
  • No other state is the child’s home state and either (1) the child and at least one parent have significant connections with Illinois, and (2) substantial evidence exists in Illinois concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships.

The UCCJEA and associated rules can be complex and hard to understand. If you’re unsure whether your child custody case should be heard in Illinois or in another state, you should consult with an experienced attorney. 

Determining a Child’s Best Interests in Illinois

Even when parents agree on custody, a judge must ultimately determine what custody arrangement would be in the child’s best interests. The emphasis in a custody determination is not on which parent is “better or worse”, but solely on the child’s safety and happiness. 

Here are some of the following factors to consider:

  • Both parent’s wishes.
  • The child’s wishes.
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community.
  • The parents’ and child’s physical and mental health.
  • Whether there has been physical violence by either parent, either directed against the child or another person.
  • Whether there has been ongoing or repeated domestic violence, either directed against the child or directed against another person.
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.

Every case is unique, and the court is free to decide what weight to give to these and other factors in making its decision. However, Illinois custody laws expressly state that the court should not consider a parent’s marital conduct unless it affects that parent’s relationship with the child. Judges will typically give both parents maximum involvement in the child’s life.

Can a Parent With Primary Physical Custody Relocate Out of State?

Illinois Courts require that a parent looking to permanently relocate a child from the State of Illinois have a written agreement and/or Court Order allowing the move.  There are a variety of factors the Court will consider in adjudicating whether the move is within your child’s best interest.  The parent who wants to relocate with the child out of state bears the burden of proving that the move serves the child’s best interests. A court must consider the following factors in determining whether a proposed move to another state is in the best interests of the child:

  • Whether the move will enhance the general quality of life for both the custodial parent and the child.
  • Whether the custodial parent’s proposed move is a ruse to frustrate or defeat the other parent’s visitation rights with the child.
  • The motives of the noncustodial parent in resisting the removal.
  • Whether a reasonable visitation schedule can be achieved if the move is allowed.

The parent seeking to move must prove that it is in the best interests of the child, not just the parent’s best interests. A judge will want to address housing arrangements, job opportunities, neighborhood and school quality, available activities for the child, and a well-considered plan to keep the child in touch with the left-behind parent. Some judicial districts in Illinois are more lenient about allowing removal than others. An experienced lawyer will know what to expect from the judges in your district.

Unless the parties have agreed in writing to the contrary, a custodial parent may remove the children to another part of the state without a court order. However, because this will bring about a significant disruption in the child’s relationship to the other parent, such a move could be considered a material change in the child’s circumstance, which could be the foundation of a petition for custody modification.

A permanent relocation is different from a vacation. Parents are free to take the child out of state on a temporary vacation as long as the court order allows it and the traveling parent provides the other parent the address and telephone number where the child may be reached while out of state, and the date on which the child will return to Illinois. 

What Happens if my Ex Want to Move Across International Borders?

International child custody cases are on the rise due to the mobility of couples who either desire to live abroad, move back to their home country or who receive international job assignments.

While legal issues involving Parental Responsibilities are common, many do not know what to do when their child/children are taken overseas. It’s important for the residents of the Greater Chicagoland area who share custody of their children know about the ins and outs of the Hague Convention should this occur.

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.

Masters Law Group Featured Hague Decisions:

At Masters Law Group, we know the requirements parents must abide by when they want to move, and we know how to challenge the move so you do not lose out on time with your child.

Final Thoughts

If you’re faced with an out-of-state divorce or international custody battle, our skilled and knowledgeable family law attorneys can help educate you on your options, and provide legal assistance if your child is being taken out of Illinois. 

Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation and that our clients want to move on with their lives. Especially when children are involved. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients’ assurance and well being in mind.

Our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most. Schedule a consultation with us today to discuss our divorce services.

Chicago Divorce Attorneys: Work with the Best

Chicago has a lot to offer its residents and you can find some great resources in the windy city. But if you’re searching the market for a Divorce Attorney in Illinois, you should do some serious research to find the right divorce attorney for your unique situation. 

If you are considering filing for divorce from your spouse, you will most likely need to find a divorce attorney. Divorce attorneys (a subsection of Family Law) specialize in the entire divorce process from start to finish, help smooth over differences between disagreeing parties, and even offer a sympathetic ear to listen when you feel overwhelmed or upset.

Choosing the right divorce attorney is a very personal decision: one that can make all the difference in your case. It isn’t as simple as searching for “divorce lawyers near me,” as this will produce a plethora of options in your area. Location is obviously an enormous factor, but to identify the perfect Illinois attorney for your situation, it’s crucial that you select a law firm that specializes in the unique issues involved with your case. Here are four tips to help you do just that.

Choose a Reliable Divorce Attorney

When looking at your options for lawyers, pay attention to how they communicate with you. It’s important to develop a positive rapport with your lawyer, as most divorces take several months to settle. Throughout the divorce process, you’ll have an array of questions, concerns, or disputes you’ll want to take care of. As such, you’ll want someone on your side who will alleviate your stress, address your concerns, and answer your questions to the best of their ability.

Check Certifications and Education

The firm and their attorneys you choose should be board certified. Most attorneys will mention their board certification on their website. If you can’t find this info on their site, then ask them directly. While you’re at it, ask your prospective attorney where they received their education.

Read Reviews and Testimonials

Quality services can help your case especially if it has to go to court. Online reviews will always give you an idea about the quality of services an attorney offers. You cannot afford to go and spend your money on services that you cannot trust. Therefore, before you hire a divorce attorney, you have to be sure that they can offer the best services.

Make a List of Questions

Make a list of questions to ask your potential lawyer. Interviewing divorce lawyers can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. So, it is always a good idea to have a list of prepared questions before starting the interview.

Here’s the list of questions that we’ve put together to help you select the right divorce lawyer for your case.

  • Are you experienced in divorces and divorce mediation?
  • What can I expect my divorce process to be like?
  • How long will it take to resolve my case?
  • How will we communicate with each other?
  • What is your strategy for my case?

You may feel that you would like to just get an attorney and get this divorce over with as soon as possible without too much in-depth thought. The problem with that is you risk missing out on the right representation for you. At the end of the day, a good attorney is responsive to client and court needs, knows the contours of family and divorce law, and can demystify an otherwise complex system to walk their client through each step of the way.  Because of the legal reality of divorce, finding your best Illinois divorce lawyer is priority one.

About Masters Law Group

Located in Chicago, Illinois, the firm handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. Masters Law Group concentrates in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and related family matters. Our Attorneys have a lot to offer, here’s why you should work with the best.

Both of our senior Attorneys have been recognized by multiple peer review publications such as, Best Lawyers. Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers. If the votes for a lawyer are positive enough for recognition in Best Lawyers, that lawyer must maintain those votes in subsequent polls to remain in each edition. 

Our Attorneys

Erin E. Masters

Erin Masters is the principal of Masters Law Group, located in Chicago, Illinois. Masters Law Group concentrates in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and Hague Convention/ international child abduction matters.

Erin E. Masters

Ms. Masters received her Juris Doctorate and Certificate in Child and Family Law from Loyola University of Chicago, School of Law, in May of 2004. She was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2004 and to the General Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2005 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020. Ms. Masters was admitted to the United States Supreme Court in March 2009.

Throughout her career Ms. Masters has represented a variety of clients, both pre-decree and post-decree. Additionally she has prepared Prenuptial Agreements, drafted Marital Settlement Agreements and Final Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Orders, as well as prosecuted and defended Orders of Protection. Ms. Masters has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

In addition to representing clients, Ms. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, she has also been appointed by the Circuit Court of Cook County to mediate complex family law cases. Since 2016, Ms. Masters has been named “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers and has been named as an “Emerging Lawyer” by Leading Lawyers. In 2020, Ms. Masters was named “Super Lawyer” by Illinois Super Lawyers, and in 2021 and now for 2022, she has been recognized by Best Lawyers for her work in Family Law Mediation.

Anthony G. Joseph

Anthony G. Joseph is an attorney at the firm of Masters Law Group, LLC. Mr. Joseph received his B.A. degree in Global Economic Relations from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.

Anthony G. Joseph

He obtained both his J.D. degree and Certificate in Trial Advocacy from The John Marshall Law School. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2010, the Federal General Bar and Trial Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2012 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020.

Mr. Joseph is an active trial lawyer. Mr. Joseph publishes in the area of civil litigation. Mr. Joseph has also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University. Mr. Joseph is “AV” Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review, which is the highest peer review rating available and has been named a “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers in both 2019, 2020 and 2021. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers for his work in Family Law.

Mr. Joseph concentrates his practice in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities and child support. Mr. Joseph has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time as well as prosecuted and defended Orders of Protection. Ms. Joseph has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support. Mr. Joseph has also litigated cases in both state court and multiple United States Federal Courts involving The Hague Convention and international child abduction issues.

Karly Armstrong

Karly Armstrong received her B.A. in Political Science & Interdisciplinary Social Sciences – International Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2016 and graduated magna cum laude.

Karly Armstrong

Throughout her time at the State University of New York at Buffalo, she was in the advanced honors program and wrote her undergraduate thesis on Middle Eastern women’s rights movements.

Karly received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May 2021. At Loyola, she was on the ABA Negotiations Team. She also was a student clinician at the Loyola Community Law Center where she served as a Guardian ad litem in contested minor guardianship proceedings. Karly took her Illinois bar exam in July 2021 and passed. She has been admitted to the Illinois bar since November 2021.

Karly thoroughly enjoyed her time spent as a clinician at the Loyola Community Law Center and is excited to start her new career as a family law attorney at Masters Law Group.

Client Reviews

“I can not thank him enough for what they have done to help me and continue to help me!”

I found Anthony Joseph and Erin masters of masters law group on Avvo. Needing desperate help for a case that I had been dealing with alongside the state for years. Calling in tears Anthony assured me he’ll fight for me. He has done nothing less! Dealing with a tough year he was always there to tell me it’s going to be okay and deal with my ever so gracious ex. He is there whenever you need him! Email, call, how up in court the day before Thanksgiving! I would highly recommend it!

-Lynn

Divorce Client

“Excellent, caring attorney”

I went to Erin after I realized I couldn’t finish my divorce on my own (it was dragging for a year at that point). She took action right away and my divorce was settled 3 months later! I got everything I wanted in my settlement, which was to keep my kids and home! I would recommend Erin for divorce, family law problems. She is prompt in answering phone calls and emails and provides the best service. She is very knowledgeable on allocation of parental responsibilities and child support matters as well. She is definitely a 5-star attorney.

-Rayah

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Client

Final Thoughts

With a long history of awarded recognitions in Family Law, Masters Law Group LLC has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field. 

Come and work with the Best Chicago Divorce Attorneys in the city. Schedule a consultation here today.

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.