An Overview of International Child Abduction Pursuant to the Hague Treaty Convention

by | Dec 7, 2018 | Custody & Parental Access

We frequently work with clients caught in the quagmires of allegations of international child abduction, kidnapping, or wrongful removal.

These matters come under the statute found under the Hague Convention Treaty on international abduction, kidnapping.

The provisions of the Hague are only applicable to signatory countries or countries that have ratified or otherwise accepted the Hague Treaty.

At the Law firm of Poppe & Associates, we have handled international child abduction matters and we’ve handled those matters successfully. If you are involved in a matter which implicated the Hague Treaty, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel from a qualified attorney with experience handling cases pursuant to the Hague.

What exactly is the Hague Convention Treaty?

The Hague Convention Treaty is a multilateral treaty ratified in October of 1980 to provide expeditious return of a child internationally abducted by a parent from one country to another. The goal of the treaty is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed before the wrongful removal. The treaty works only to determine the country in which the child custody case should be heard. It does not consider the merits of the any underlying child custody dispute.

Today, 98 countries are party to the convention.

First, Find out If Your Country of Residence & the Country to Which the Child Has Been Removed Are Both Party to the Convention

If the answer is “yes”, you can file suit under the Hague Convention Treaty. A simple Google search will yield a list of all signatories, but generally countries in the Americas and Europe are all party. Very few exist in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Once you’ve established that you fall under the legal umbrella of the Hague Convention, we recommend that you contact an International Child Custody law firm like Poppe & Associates to establish merit of your case.

The Guidelines Outlined by the Hague Convention Treaty for Establishing Merit

According to the treaty, removal is wrongful if:

“a. It is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or alone, under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention; and

“b. at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention.”

“From the Convention’s standpoint, the removal of a child by one of the joint holders without the consent of the other, is . . . wrongful, and this wrongfulness derives in this particular case, not from some action in breach of a particular law, but from the fact that such action has disregarded the rights of the other parent which are also protected by law and has interfered with their normal exercise.”

To put this in layman’s terms, neglecting to uphold the custody agreement either jointly or alone by removing the child from their place of residency is a violation of the treaty. It is illegal for one joint holder to take the child outside of the location granted by jurisdiction without consent from the other.

In the Hague Convention Treaty “Habitually Resident” Is a Very Important Phrase for Determining Merit

The treaty does not define this phrase and instead leaves it to the courts to define.

The court will look closely at the facts supporting habitual residence to determine if merit is met. To this end, providing proof of habitual residence is critical. Your attorney can walk you through this process.

International Child Custody Cases are Stressful and Emotional.

They take a toll on parent and child alike. The Hague Convention Treaty is designed to minimize that stress, returning a child to the country of habitual residence. If your child has been abducted to another country, time is of the essence and the Hague Convention Treaty is designed to help you.


– Mia Poppe

To explore whether your case may have merit under the Hague Convention Treaty, contact the Law Firm of Poppe & Associates today for a consultation.