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.
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: