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Understanding the Hague Convention

The United States is one of many countries that is a party to the Hague Abduction Convention. California parents should be aware of the treaty and how it applies to international child custody disputes and abductions.

The Convention was created to shield children from the abduction and transportation to another country by a parent. Its policy is that typical matters of child visitation and custody should be addressed by the court system of the country in which the child habitually resides. American parents who have a custody order may need to resort to the Convention if the orders are not honored in other countries. Interference with a sovereign nation's legal matters is not permitted, and each country has legal authority only over its territory and its inhabitants.

The Convention allows its signatories to work past jurisdiction challenges to collaborate on international abductions. Each member is required to have a point of contact for parents or foreign governments involved in an abduction case. This contact will aid in locating abducted children, work to achieve cordial resolutions and handle any requests for the return of the children.

The treaty is applied to international abduction cases under certain conditions. The child must be under 16 at the time of the application and be a habitual resident of a member country and illegally taken to another member country. The removal of the child must violate the custodial rights of the parent who was exercising them. The treaty must have been in force in both countries at the time of the removal.

The enforcement of a child custody agreement may require engaging in litigation. In cases of international abductions, a family law attorney may file the necessary paperwork to compel the return of an abducted child and then may request a custody modification on behalf of a client.

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