Understanding The Hague Abduction Convention

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty between 98 countries ensuring that children that are internationally abducted by a parent are returned to their country as soon as possible. Children may be abducted during a divorce case or a case involving the modification of a Parenting Plan or Custody Order. One parent may hope to get away from the other parent or to change the custody order in a court of a different country.

If the nation that the child was originally from and the country that they are taken to are members of the treaty, the child should be immediately returned to their country of residence. This is meant to discourage a parent from abducting their child and taking them to a new country.

Lingering problems

While the Hague Abduction Convention is great in theory, in practice there have been problems getting countries to cooperate. A Washington resident had his son abducted by his estranged wife who was a Japanese national. Even though he legally had custody, she took their son to Japan and refused to bring his son back or allow him to visit. Although Japan is a member of the treaty, and should have returned his son, no action has been taken to reunite them. Nine years later, he is still fighting to see his child.

If parents have different nationalities, one parent may suddenly vanish with their child or children if they feel their custody or visitation rights may be threatened. Ideally, the convention will see the child returned quickly—but, like in the case above, it cannot always be counted on.

This problem is a serious one, but not necessarily common. If you are in a marriage with someone of a different nationality and have children together, it helps to have open communication between parents, especially if thinking about divorce. In such cases, it is also important to have provisions for possession of the children’s passports in any Parenting Plan or Custody Order.

The following two tabs change content below.

The Law Offices of Stacy D. Heard, PLLC

Stacy Heard is an accomplished and well-respected family law attorney in Seattle, Washington who has served clients for over 20 years. Stacy specializes in matrimonial and family law. She handles matters of divorce, high-conflict parenting plan/child custody issues, international custody disputes and Hague Convention cases, complex financial issues, relocation, restraining orders, child support, and modifications of Parenting Plans and Child Support Orders.