Not all love unions end in “happily ever after.” When children are involved, parents may struggle to come to an agreement on which parent their children should live with and how they should organize their parenting time. When the parents are from two different countries, though, the issues become even more complicated when the foreign parent wants to take the child back to his or her home country.
In most cases, courts will side with keeping the child in the country where he or she has established consistent residency. However, it’s not unheard of for a foreign parent to disagree with such a ruling and to unlawfully take the child away. This is usually considered kidnapping under U.S. and international regulations, and the law-abiding parent can take legal action to get his or her child returned.
The Hague Convention and international child abduction
The Hague Convention is an international treaty that assists parents in participating countries to seek the return of their children after a case of international child abduction. As long as both countries have ratified the convention, the law-abiding parent will be able to get the foreign family law courts to honor the existing child custody agreement that was in place before the abduction.
The Hague Convention streamlines the process of getting U.S. court documents admitted as evidence into foreign courts, and it establishes a special office for each member country through which U.S. parents and their attorneys can communicate to gather information about an abducted child.
One potential issue, however, relates to cases in which a child was taken to a non-Hague nation. In these cases, parents will have a harder time navigating the foreign court system. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Rather, the process will be more challenging and time-consuming with fewer assurances of success.
Was your child abducted to a foreign country?
If your child was taken unlawfully to a foreign country, it’s vital that you act as swiftly as possible to try and ameliorate the situation. Legal options will be available, and you may be on the right side of the law — especially if the international abduction happened in violation of an existing child support order.