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Abduction – Hague Act

Morse Investigation Services has put together a  general overview of the Hague Act as well as some additional information about international Abduction.

International Abduction Cases and the Hague Act

How does the Hague Convention work?

The Convention does not apply to every international parental child abduction case.  Several parameters must be met in order to file an application for return under the treaty.

For your case to be considered, you must show:

    That your child was habitually resident (child’s home for a significant amount of time) in one Convention country, and was wrongfully removed to or retained in another Convention country (taken or retained in violation of your custody rights);

    That the wrongful removal or retention must have occurred between two Convention countries that have a treaty relationship on or after the date the treaty came into force between the two countries (the dates are different for every country);

    The child or children are under the age of 16 at the time of filing the petition.

For a list of Participating Countries Click Here

For left-behind parents seeking the return of their children, one of the biggest sources of frustration is that courts in many other countries do not take into account the prior decisions made by courts in the United States.  A custody order in the United States can be meaningless abroad.  When confronting this challenge, keep in mind the following three things:

Each country is a sovereign nation. Sovereign nations cannot interfere with each other’s legal systems, judiciaries, or law enforcement;
Generally every country only has jurisdiction within its own territory and over people present within its borders; and
Although court orders from other countries may be recognized in the United States under the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), this is rarely true in reverse – U.S. court orders are not generally recognized in other countries.

In part because of these difficulties, twenty-three nations agreed to draft a treaty about international parental child abduction at the Hague Conference on Private International Law in 1976.  The treaty was to be a way for nations to work together to solve abduction cases.  Between 1976 and 1980, the United States was a major force in preparing and negotiating the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction  (Hague Abduction Convention).  And on July 1, 1988, the Convention came into force for the United States.

The Hague Abduction Convention is the primary civil law mechanism for parents seeking the return of the children from other treaty partner countries.  Countries that are party to the Convention have agreed that a child who was living in one Convention country, and who has been removed to or retained in another Convention country in violation of the left-behind parent’s custodial rights, shall be promptly returned.  Once the child has been returned, the custody dispute can then be resolved, if necessary, in the courts of that jurisdiction. The Convention does not address who should have custody of the child; it addresses where the custody case should be heard.

To date, the United States partners with 68 other countries under the Hague Abduction Convention (view the list of Hague Abduction countries).  Each country that is party to the Convention has designated a Central Authority, a specific government office, to carry out specialized Convention duties.  Central Authorities communicate with each other and they assist parents in filing applications for return of or for access to their children under the Convention.

If your child is a victim of an international abduction contact your local law enforcement office, your attorney, and our Team of Investigators at Morse Investigation Services.

Below is a link to the Application for submission under the Hague act.
Hague Abduction Application

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