This scenario has to be among the top tier of a parent’s worst nightmares. Try to imagine this. Imagine yourself in a custody battle over your children. You, a law-abiding citizen, voluntarily relinquish physical custody of your children to their other parent for their weekend visitation as expected. As you drive to the designated meeting spot to pick up your children, you have no idea what is about to unfold.
The minutes begin to pass ever so slowly. Five minutes go by then ten. At fifteen minutes you are picking up the phone and calling your former spouse to ask them when they will be at the meeting place. No answer. You call them again and this time the voicemail answers. Frustrated, you hang up the phone. After an hour, your intuition is telling you something is very wrong. You drive over to your former spouse’s residence and notice their vehicle is not in the driveway. After parking the car, you walk up to the door and notice the mini-blinds are slightly askew. Curiosity compels you to glance inside the dimly lit room and then the realization that something has gone wrong overwhelms you as you realize there is no furniture in the house. In a panic, you grab your cellphone and start calling your former spouse, their parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and anyone else you can think of who might know what is going on.
After the first 24 hours have passed, you realize that your children are not at home with you where they should be and the range of emotions you will experience will be some of the most intense you have ever experienced in your life. Ranging from outright shock because you cannot believe something like this is happening to you, to guilt for having given your precious children over to ‘that Monster’. Fear is a powerful motivator but not the best educator. You are willing to do anything to get your children back unharmed, but once you know your children are no longer in the United States or any of our controlled territories, where do you start?
Hopefully, this information will be informative and helpful to you.
What Kind of Lawyer Handles International Child Abduction Cases?
In a situation where spouse or ex-spouse abducts your child and takes them to another country, the case becomes international. International Family Law Attorneys are lawyers who are trained to take on these types of cases.
What is an International Family Law Attorney?
International Family Law Attorneys cover just about all family law matters that have an international element such as a spouse, a spouse-to-be, or a child is in or from another country. When these situations require, lawyers use what is called the Hauge Convention of 1980.
Before The Hauge Convention.
Before the Hauge convention of 1980, all you could do in these situations is just hope that there was some sort of treaty the countries had that would enable you to get the child back in their country of residency safely. In many cases, no agreement that guaranteed the child’s return or safety, and at that point, you would have to have a lawyer that is extremely diligent and experienced to even get somewhat good results.
What is the Hauge Convention of 1980?
The Hauge convention was created to provide children with protection against the negative effects of abducting a child across international borders and seeking the return of the children from other member countries. The child must be less than 16 at the time of the abduction and application for it to be considered. The convention will only apply to the abductions that occurred after the country has joined the treaty, therefore if your child was abducted before your country joining, the Hauge Convention will not apply to your case.
What Countries are a Part of the Hauge Convention?
As of 2018 there are 98 nations a part of the Hauge convention and they are Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong (China), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau (China), Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Republic of, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea (from 1 June 2015), Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
There have been great strides made over the last decade in the effort to prosecute parents who transport their children to other countries to avoid the laws of this country and to reunite these abducted children with the other parent in their lives. However, this is a very real problem with no easy solution in sight.