Tag Archive for: Hague convention

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.

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.

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.

 

Hague Convention – International Child Abduction Questions and Answers

What is the Hague Convention? Can I protect my child from Parental Child Abduction? What should I do if my child is taken across state or international borders? Find all the answers to these time-sensitive, high-stakes questions here. 

The Hague Convention is a treaty that many countries, including the United States, have joined. Its purpose is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent.

While there is a lot of information out there about the Hague Convention, we decided to make a list of the most frequently asked questions. Here’s what you need to know if you are facing the frightening situation of International Child Abduction.

What is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 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.

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. These participating countries are also included in a large treaty that governs the way different 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 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 overall purpose of the Convention is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by encouraging the speedy return of an abducted child to their country of habitual residence. As well as to organize and secure the effective rights of access to a child.

What Countries does the Hague Convention include? 

Listed below are the countries that are participants of the Hague Convention in force with the United States of America. The official list and dates the treaties signed can be found here.

Andorra Lithuania
Argentina Luxembourg
Armenia Macedonia, Republic of
Australia Malta
Austria Mauritius
Bahamas, The Mexico
Belgium Monaco
Belize Montenegro
Bosnia and Herzegovina Morocco
Brazil Netherlands
Bulgaria New Zealand
Burkina Faso Norway
Canada Pakistan
Chile Panama
China (Hong Kong and Macau only) Paraguay
Colombia Peru
Costa Rica Poland
Croatia Portugal
Cyprus Korea, Republic of
Czech Republic Romania
Denmark Saint Kitts and Nevis
Dominican Republic San Marino
Ecuador Serbia
El Salvador Singapore
Estonia Slovakia
Fiji Slovenia
Finland South Africa
France Spain
Germany Sri Lanka
Greece Sweden
Guatemala Switzerland
Honduras Thailand
Hungary Trinidad and Tobago
Iceland Turkey
Ireland Ukraine
Israel United Kingdom (Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Isle of Man, Montserrat)
Italy Uruguay
Jamaica Venezuela
Japan Zimbabwe
Latvia

My Ex wants to move out of state with our child. What can I do?

First off, it’s important to note that your options will depend on a number of different factors, and we want to provide you with some general information below. If your former spouse makes the decision that they want to move out of state with your child, they must first notify you of the move. 

The notice they give you must state the date they intend to move, the address of their new home, and how long they intend to remain in the new location. They must deliver the notice to you at least 60 days before they move unless they have a court order that specifies different instructions.

You can sign the notice if you approve of the move and your former spouse will then file the notice with the court. Of course, you do not have to consent to the move. If your spouse moves out of state with the child without your consent, or without sending you notice, it is considered parental kidnapping or child abduction.

If you don’t consent to the move with your child, your ex has two options. They can either agree not to move out of state with the child, or they can petition the court to overrule you and allow the move. If your ex petitions the court and asks them to allow the move, you and your former spouse must attend a court hearing. During the hearing, a family law judge will take many factors into consideration and then deliver their decision.

Like when making child custody decisions, the judge will take many factors into consideration. All of the factors are guided by what is in the best interests of the child. However, if your ex wants to move for a better-paying job that would allow them to better care for the child, the judge may consider the move in the best interests of the child.

What are the defenses to a petition for the return of my child?

There are a few defenses to a claim of wrongful removal or retention under the Hague Convention, which include:

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.

If your child has been wrongfully removed to a country overseas, you should immediately contact your local family law attorney that is experienced in international custody disputes for help.

How do I initiate the process of International Parental Child Abduction?

Deciding whether to file a Hague application is an important decision and must be considered based on each case’s specific circumstances. Perhaps after separating from their partner, a parent wants to take their child and move to another country. Maybe a parent moved internationally in violation of a custody agreement.

Filing a case under the Convention does not guarantee that your child will be returned. To obtain the return of your child, through a Hague proceeding, you must first be able to demonstrate:

  • That your child was habitually resident in one Convention country, and was wrongfully removed to or retained in another Convention country;
  • The removal or retention of your child is considered wrongful if it was in violation of your custodial rights, and you were exercising those rights at the time of the removal or retention, or you would have been exercising them but for the removal or retention.
  • The Convention must have been in force between the two countries when the wrongful removal or retention occurred (the dates are different for every country); (Note: In many  instances, when a country accedes to the Convention, it is not automatically partners with all of the other countries who have ratified or acceded to the Convention.  Countries must accept another country’s accession to the Convention under the terms described in the Convention before a treaty partnership is created.
  • The child is under the age of 16.

How do I find a reputable parental child abduction attorney?

To make sure you have the best possible chance in your Hague Convention case, you need an attorney who understands both the severe circumstances and the delicate interplay of state, federal, and international laws.

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:

If your former spouse wants to move out of state or cross international borders with your child against your consent, or they already have, our skilled and experienced team can help. 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.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your case immediately.

 

Why the Hague Convention Could Matter in Your Child Custody Case

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. Let’s take a look into the implications of International Child Custody cases and how The Hague Convention can help. 

While legal issues with Child Custody (now known as Allocation of 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 Hague Convention should this occur. Rest assured, these issues can be handled with caution and care by the Family Law Attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our seasoned attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience in handling international child custody cases under the Hague Convention.

The biggest issue in determining custody issues is where the children reside, as that is typically where the custody battle will take place. Here’s an extensive look on why it’s important to be familiar with the Hague Convention and what it could mean for your international child custody case.

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. 

The Court May Deny Return

Under certain circumstances, the court may deny the return of the child. It’s important to note that these exceptions can vary from country to country. 

Here are some reasons where the court may deny return:

  • There is risk to the child where they are exposed to physical or psychological harm.
  • The child objects if they are old enough and mature enough.
  • More than a year has passed, and the child acclimates to their new home.
  • The custodial parent agrees to let the child remain.
  • The return would violate human rights and fundamental freedoms
  • The custodial parents seeking return are not exercising rights of custody during wrongful removal. 

The Hague Convention establishes numerous procedures for contacting each country and coordination in an international child abduction. According to the treaty, a suit for the return of the child is given priority, and courts typically make decisions within six weeks.

Get the Help You Need

High-stakes international child disputes are not going away. If you are facing such a case, you need to act fast. An attorney must be ready to file a Hague Convention application and institute or defend a Hague Convention lawsuit on extremely short notice. This is why it’s extremely important to locate counsel with knowledge and experience in Hague proceedings. 

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. We 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.

Our Featured Hague Decisions:

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What to do if Your Ex Won’t Return Child After Half Term

Half Term, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas… the last quarter of the year is packed full of family fun. However, if you are separated or divorced, sharing a child during the holidays is not easy, especially if your ex refuses to obey your parenting or custody agreement.

Half term school break is right around the corner, and for many parents, this is an exciting time to spend some quality time with your child. However, ask many divorced parents about child visitation rights, and you’re likely to hear some discontent about the situation. Especially when a parent ignores an established holiday exchange schedule.

When a parent violates a court-ordered or agreed-upon parenting plan, they run the risk of being held in contempt of court. A parent refusing to bring a child back to the custodial parent after a visit is also known as Parental Child Abduction which requires fast, legal action.

Parenting Plans 101

A parenting plan is a document that says who will make decisions for a child and how those decisions will be made. This often happens in a parental responsibilities case. These plans outline how you and the other parent will continue to care and provide for your children after you separate.

It’s a good idea for a parenting plan to have a system in place for how disputes should be handled if the situation arises, and a way in which parents can periodically review and make necessary changes to the plan. The plan may also include other provisions or information intended to help both parents understand and abide by the shared responsibilities in raising the child or children.

What to include in your plan:

  • Where the child lives
  • Time the child spends with each parent
  • How each parent gets information and records about the child
  • How the child is to be transported for parenting time
  • An airtight Holiday schedule

The final parenting plan will always be aligned with what’s in the best interests of the child.

Important Factors of a Parenting Plan in Illinois

  • Each parent must file a parenting plan within 120 days of asking the court for parental responsibilities;
  • If the parents agree on parental responsibilities, including parenting time, they can file one parenting plan (signed by both parents) within the 120 days. If the parents don’t agree, they must each file their own parenting plans;
  • If neither parent files a parenting plan, the court will hold a hearing to determine the child’s best interests; and
  • The court will look at the parenting plans when it decides who gets parental responsibilities.

Once both plans have been created and shared with the court to examine each parent’s responsibilities, the court can accept the plan and it becomes a Joint Parenting Order. After the Joint Parenting Order is in place, changes cannot be made to it for two years.

Parenting Plans for Holidays, Vacations & School Breaks in Illinois

Splitting up holidays, vacation time, and school breaks can be challenging, but there are ways to make it work for everyone involved.

For many parents, it makes sense to take an odd/even approach to the holiday season. For example, one parent could have the child/children for Thanksgiving on odd years, but Christmas for even years. The other parent would have the children for Thanksgiving on odd years and Christmas on even years. An an alternative choice by parents during the holidays is a fixed holiday schedule. This takes a more simple approach of assigning a certain holiday, every year, to a certain parent. While this could cause some form of conflict for those to want to alternate the holidays, it works well for separated couples with different religions.

At any point, one parent may need to modify a parenting plan. A parenting plan can only be modified by the court. Take caution with any out-of-court arrangements because they are not enforceable.

Parenting Plan Violations

Either your ex isn’t complying with the schedule or maybe there are more serious issues where you’re worried about your child’s safety; If you are concerned about the upcoming holidays and whether your ex will stick to the plan, you can and should probably take legal action.

According to 750 ILCS 5/607.5, if one parent violates the parenting plan, the other parent can bring an action to enforce the parenting plan. If the court finds that a violation has occurred, it can order:

  • additional terms and conditions
  • require participation in a parental education program
  • require family or individual counseling
  • require parent-in-violation to post a Chas bond that can be forfeited for payment of expenses
  • require parenting time to be made up
  • find the non-compliant parent in contempt of court
  • impose civil fines
  • require a non-compliant parent to reimburse reasonable expenses to the compliant parent
  • require any other measure so long as it is in the best interests of the child.

What to do if Your Ex Won’t Return Your Child

If your ex isn’t sticking to the parenting plan, have your attorney send a letter to your ex. This is often the first step towards getting your ex to follow child custody orders. Your attorney can write up a forceful letter that informs the other parent that they must obey the court order or be prepared to face serious legal penalties. Sometimes this is all that it takes to wake up a parent and get them to follow the child custody order.

Illinois’ new parenting time law (750 ILCS 5/607.5(a)) requires the court to handle parenting time abuse cases on an “expedited basis.”  In the old days it could take six months to get parenting time violations addressed.  Now, thanks to the new law, I often can get a remedy in a few days or weeks.

However, keeping a child late on a visitation in Illinois is technically a crime. If you suspect that the other parent has taken your child and doesn’t intend to return (known as a parental child abduction), contact the police. If the other parent takes your child across state lines or out of the country, local police will work alongside federal law enforcement, such as the FBI, to ensure the return of your child.

Experienced Parental Child Abduction Attorneys – Masters Law Group

Above all, your actions should be taken in the best interests of your child.

An experienced attorney can help you navigate the court system in this emotional situation, and make sure that you get in front of a judge as soon as possible. At Masters Law Group, we focus exclusively on Family Law, with a particular emphasis on International Child Abduction and cross-border custody issues pursuant to the Hague Convention of 1980 and the UCCJEA. What’s more, our attorneys are also court-appointed Child Representatives and have experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters.

If you’re dealing with custody or visitation interference, or have related concerns about parental child abduction, contact us here today. We understand that above all, any actions taken should always be in the best interests of your child.

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.

 

 

Parental Child Abduction? Hire a Hague Convention Attorney.

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.

LIST OF U.S HAGUE CONVENTION TREATY PARTNERS

Listed below are the countries that are participants of the Hague Convention in force with the United States of America. The official list and dates the treaties signed can be found here.

 

Andorra Lithuania
Argentina Luxembourg
Armenia Macedonia, Republic of
Australia Malta
Austria Mauritius
Bahamas, The Mexico
Belgium Monaco
Belize Montenegro
Bosnia and Herzegovina Morocco
Brazil Netherlands
Bulgaria New Zealand
Burkina Faso Norway
Canada Pakistan
Chile Panama
China (Hong Kong and Macau only) Paraguay
Colombia Peru
Costa Rica Poland
Croatia Portugal
Cyprus Korea, Republic of
Czech Republic Romania
Denmark Saint Kitts and Nevis
Dominican Republic San Marino
Ecuador Serbia
El Salvador Singapore
Estonia Slovakia
Fiji Slovenia
Finland South Africa
France Spain
Germany Sri Lanka
Greece Sweden
Guatemala Switzerland
Honduras Thailand
Hungary Trinidad and Tobago
Iceland Turkey
Ireland Ukraine
Israel United Kingdom (Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Isle of Man, Montserrat)
Italy Uruguay
Jamaica Venezuela
Japan Zimbabwe
Latvia

 

CHOOSING YOUR ATTORNEY

To make sure you have the best possible chance in your Hague Convention case, you need an attorney who understands both the dire circumstances and the delicate interplay of state, federal, and international laws.

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.

Read the details of our most recent successful Hague Convention case here. Furthermore, see what our clients have to say on representing their Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction case:

“Anthony Joseph and Erin litigated my Hague Convention federal court case and, after a terrifying and tiring few months, we won our case!! If I didn’t have the direction and focus of these two we wouldn’t have won. Anthony is a shark, no one will work harder and smarter and know every detail in the court like this man. AND ERIN!!!!! She is dotting all the i’s and crossing the T’s. Not one thing will get by her. She thinks outside the box and will find a solution to every problem. They way they work together, the other side doesn’t have a chance in court. Because of these two my children are safe with me in the USA and we won an extremely difficult to win case. 9/10 times the children have to go back to the country they were taken from, in this case it was Mexico. I had the odds stacked against me hugely. It’s very difficult to get any judge to side with the person who left with the children. Because of their expertise in Hague, they found the important details to keep my kids and myself away from our abuser who tried to get us back into the scary situation we were living in. THANK YOU TO YOU BOTH. Every day I’m grateful for them changing my life. When something this is important is at stake it is imperative you choose great counsel. And Masters Law Group is it.”

– SHARON H, HAGUE CONVENTION CLIENT TESTIMONIAL

Instead of trying to figure out international law issues alone, contact the Family Law Attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our experienced team will help you navigate the legal complexities of your case and are committed to vigorously representing you in these frightening, high-stakes proceedings.

Contact us to schedule your consultation here today.

 

Hague Convention: 6 Defenses to a Petition for the Return of a Child.

The Hague Convention is a treaty that many countries, including the United States, have joined. Its purpose is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent. Under the Convention, a court may deny return of an abducted child if one of the following six defenses apply.

When a parent is subject to an application either in the State Court or the Federal Court for return of a child who is alleged to be illegally taken from a foreign country and brought to the United States, or wrongfully retained in the United States beyond the agreed upon time frame of temporary absence, there are certain defenses that can be raised by the non-petitioning parent in order to prevent the return.

History of Hague

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.

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.

These participating countries are also included in a large treaty that governs the way different 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 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.

According to the Convention, the removal or retention of a child is “wrongful” whenever it breaches the rights of custody attributed to a person or any other body and if at the time of remove or retention those rights were actually exercised. Even if a parent already has legal custody of a child, the Convention is needed because 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.

Under the Hague Abduction Convention and ICARA, when a child has been wrongfully removed from the child’s home nation-state or “habitual residence,” the court must order the child to be returned to the habitual residence, unless the party removing the child can establish at least one of six narrow affirmative defenses.

Six Defenses

There are a few defenses to a claim of wrongful removal or retention under the Hague Convention, which include:

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.

If your child has been wrongfully removed to a country overseas, you should immediately contact your local family law attorney that is experienced in international custody disputes for help.

Relocating Your Child

Whether due to job requirements (like working in the military) or simply moving back to be with family, many separated or divorced US parents relocate abroad every year. You must realize it will often be a criminal offense for you to take the child away without the other parent’s permission. 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.

As previously mentioned, under the Hague Convention you will “wrongfully remove” a child if you take the child away from his or her habitual residence. Therefore, the other parent will normally be able to block your removal of the child from that country and if you take the child to the United States a U.S. court will normally compel you to return the child forthwith.

It is imperative you make any International Custody Agreements & Parenting Time schedules before you relocate your child/children.

In deciding whether to authorize a child’s relocation to a foreign country, U.S. courts will try to determine the best interests of the child, considering the same factors they normally consider in domestic move-away cases (these factors depend on the laws of state that has jurisdiction to hear the case). In addition, with international move-away cases, most state courts will also consider several additional factors, including (as per DivorceNet):

  • The cultural conditions and practices in the foreign country
  • Any potential visitation difficulties for the parent that gets left behind
  • Jurisdictional issues that may make the enforceability of the domestic custody and visitation orders problematic (meaning the extent to which the foreign country would enforce the left-behind parent’s visitation or rights to access the child), and
  • Whether or not the proposed foreign country is a signatory to the Hague convention (however, the fact that the proposed country is not a signatory does not automatically mean the request to relocate will be denied).

If you want to move your child out of the United States or your child’s other parent does, you should definitely contact an experienced custody attorney for advice on how to protect your parental rights.

Getting the Help You Need

Left behind parents face enormous obstacles in seeking judicial intervention in the United States to compel return of their children. Proving claims in international child abduction cases under the Hague Abduction Convention requires analysis and careful development of all evidence and testimony that may support or defeat defenses to claims of wrongful abduction or retention.

The attorneys at Masters Law Group 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. We 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.

Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.