The Hague Convention: International Child Custody Cases

Family Law
The Hague Convention: International Child Custody Cases

The Hague Convention: International Child Custody Cases

Navigating the intricacies of international child custody disputes demands a lawyer with not only a profound understanding of the law but also a deep sense of empathy for the emotional turmoil such situations entail. As a firm that vigorously protects the rights of parents and children caught in the tangle of international law, SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC brings a personalized approach to each unique case. With our proven track record of navigating the Convention’s provisions and securing the return of abducted children, we stand as staunch advocates for your family’s well-being.

What is Parental Abduction?

Parental abduction, often a consequence of heated custody battles, occurs when one parent takes a child from their home country without the other parent’s consent or court authorization. This is not just a family matter; it is a complex area of law involving different legal systems across international borders. That’s why instruments like the Hague Convention are essential for providing a framework to handle these cases.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty designed to safeguard children from international parental abduction. When a child has been wrongfully removed or retained in a country that is a signatory to the treaty, a parent can petition for a swift return of the child to their habitual residence. The actions under the Hague Convention are jurisdictional, i.e., should the minor child’s issues of custody be litigated in a local state court in the United States or is it another countries circuit or local court. It is a powerful tool, but navigating its provisions can be daunting without proper legal representation.

Habitual Residence and Wrongful Removal – Not A Best Interest Standard

The International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) states as follows, “[t]he Convention and this chapter empower courts in the United States to determine only rights under the Convention and not the merits of any underlying child custody claims.” 22 U.S.C. § 9001(b)(4) (2018). The United States Appellate Courts have addressed the Hague Convention; specifically, the Sixth Circuit states that local courts have “jurisdiction to decide the merits of an abduction claim, but not the merits of the underlying custody dispute,” and further noted that “the Hague Convention is generally intended to restore the pre-abduction status quo and to deter parents from crossing borders in search of a more sympathetic court.” Friedrich v. Friedrich (Friedrich II), 78 F.3d 1060, 1063-4 (6th Cir. 1996). Continuing with that same line of reasoning, United States courts also have held that “it is not relevant […] who is the better parent in the long run, or whether the absconding parent had good reason to leave[.]” Elyashiv v. Elyashiv, 353 F. Supp. 2d 394, 403 (E.D.N.Y. 2005) (citations omitted). A Hague Convention case is focused on the proper forum in which such a decision should be made; therefore, to consider the underlying custody dispute would be improper. See Asvesta v. Petroutsas, 580 F.3d 1000, 1015 (9th Cir. 2009) (holding that “the Convention is clear that a court considering a Hague petition should not consider matters relevant to the merits of the underlying custody dispute such as the best interests of the child, as these considerations are reserved for the courts of the child’s habitual residence”).


In the distressing event of parental abduction, what could be more crucial than having a dedicated attorney whose sole mission is to reunite you with your child? At SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC, we understand the stakes are unparalleled, and we stand poised to act with unyielding resolve. Our role transcends mere representation; we become the unbreakable voice for both wronged parents and displaced children, meticulously crafting a legal strategy to activate the Convention’s mechanisms and work tirelessly towards a resolution that restores your family unit. Our commitment is absolute: to tenaciously champion your rights and navigate the cross-border legal landscape so that your child is returned to the safe harbor of home.

Contact Us Today

As every case is unique, understanding the specific requirements and procedures involved in initiating or defending a Hague Convention case is critical. At SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC, our skilled family law attorneys are experienced in resolving Hague Convention cases. We have helped parents successfully petition for the return of their child using the Hague Convention, and we stand ready to guide you through the intricacies of this process. Our approach is not only professional and strategic but also empathetic and personalized. We are here to shoulder the legal burdens so you can focus on what matters most — your child. Contact us today.


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