The Hague Convention
In many international parental kidnapping cases, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention (commonly referred to simply as the Hague Convention) is the multilateral treaty that is used to determine the country in which custody issues will be heard. While nearly 100 countries are party to the Hague Convention, matters can become complicated when a child is abducted in a country that is not party to the Convention.
The Hague Convention generally provides a process through which a parent can have his or her child returned to his or her home country. Essentially, there are two types of Hague Convention cases: return cases in which parents with custodial rights seek the return of their children to the children’s country of habitual residence, and access cases in which parents seek enforcement of visitation rights to their children.
Attorney in Houston, TX Discusses The Hague Convention
If you need assistance filing a Hague Convention application in Southeast Texas, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation. [firm] represents clients in Houston and many surrounding areas of Harris County and Fort Bend County.
Houston divorce lawyer Michael Sydow is an experienced civil trial attorney and a Fellow for the Texas Bar Foundation and the Houston Bar Foundation. You can have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call [phone] to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.
The Hague Convention Information Center
- What does the Hague Convention do?
- What happens when a child is abducted in a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention?
- Where can I learn more about the Hague Convention in Houston?
Article 1 of the Hague Convention states that the objects of the Convention are to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in the other Contracting States. Article 5 defines “rights of custody” as including rights relating to the care of the person of the child and, in particular, the right to determine the child’s place of residence, while “rights of access” is defined as including the right to take a child for a limited period of time to a place other than the child’s habitual residence.
All countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention must designate a Central Authority under Article 6 to discharge the duties which are imposed by the Convention upon such authorities. Article 7 states that Central Authorities must cooperate with each other and promote cooperation amongst the competent authorities in their respective states to secure the prompt return of children and to achieve the other objects of the Convention.
Article 7 further states that in particular, either directly or through any intermediary, Central Authorities must take all appropriate measures –
- to discover the whereabouts of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained;
- to prevent further harm to the child or prejudice to interested parties by taking or causing to be taken provisional measures;
- to secure the voluntary return of the child or to bring about an amicable resolution of the issues;
- to exchange, where desirable, information relating to the social background of the child;
- to provide information of a general character as to the law of their State in connection with the application of the Convention;
- to initiate or facilitate the institution of judicial or administrative proceedings with a view to obtaining the return of the child and, in a proper case, to make arrangements for organising or securing the effective exercise of rights of access;
- where the circumstances so require, to provide or facilitate the provision of legal aid and advice, including the participation of legal counsel and advisers;
- to provide such administrative arrangements as may be necessary and appropriate to secure the safe return of the child;
- to keep each other informed with respect to the operation of this Convention and, as far as possible, to eliminate any obstacles to its application.
A Hague Convention proceeding mandates a child’s return, but it does not deal with the merits of a custody dispute. A child needs to have been abducted from his or her habitual residence country, and a parent must have legal custody of the child in order request a return of the child as enforced by the Hague Convention.
The following countries are listed as Central Authorities on the Hague Conference on Private International Law:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- China (Hong Kong)
- China (Macao)
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Lesotho (Article 29)
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- Republic of Moldova
- Russian Federation (Article 29)
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- San Marino
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Sweden (Article 29)
- Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- Zambia (Article 6)
While numerous countries are signatories to the Hague Convention, some countries are not. When a child is abducted from his or her home in the United States and taken to a non-Hague signatory country, it can be much more difficult for the parent to have the child returned to the United States.
In most cases, the parent will need to have an experienced family law attorney who is capable of exercising that parent’s rights under the laws of the country in question. A May 2015 report from the Global Legal Research Center of the Law Library of Congress covered laws on parental child abduction and the legal aid that may be available to parents of abducted children in 38 countries that have not signed the Hague Convention.
The 38 countries in the report included:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Burma (Myanmar)
- Cape Verde
- Equatorial Guinea
- Kyrgyz Republic
- Papua New Guinea
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- São Tomé e Príncipe
- Saudi Arabia
Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction — View the full text of the multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law that provides procedures to ensure prompt return of children wrongfully removed to the state of their habitual residence. On this website, you can view the text of the Convention in a PDF or an outline of the Convention. Nearly 100 countries are party to the convention.
Abbott v. Abbott, 560 U.S. 1 (2010) — The Supreme Court of the United States reviewed this case which asked the question of whether a parent has a right of custody by reason of that parent’s ne exeat right: the authority to consent before the other parent may take the child to another country. The Supreme Court held that a parent has a right of custody under the Hague Convention when the parent retains a ne exeat right, and the mother in this case violated the ne exeat right of the father when taking the child to the United States without the father’s consent. The Court notes that while a parent possessing a ne exeat right has a right of custody and can seek a return remedy, the return order is not automatic as return is not required when the abducting parent is able to establish that a Convention exception applies.
Find a Hague Convention Lawyer in Houston, TX
Do you need help possibly filing an application under the Hague Convention in Southeast Texas? You will want to contact [firm] as soon as possible.
Michael Sydow is an attorney in Houston who is experienced in family law and international matters and assists individuals in communities all over Fort Bend County and Harris County. Call [phone] or submit an online contact form to have our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.