What is the role of the Hague Convention in international child abductions? What happens when a co-parent takes the child(ren) out of the country without the permission of the Court?
California parents who are concerned about an international abduction of their child during or after a divorce might wonder how the government will help them in such a situation. Taking a child to another country and denying the custodial rights of the other parent is against federal law, and it carries a penalty of up to three years in prison.
However, one problem prosecutors face is that while they might prosecute a parent for an international abduction, they are not necessarily in control of whether the child is returned. The return of the child is usually a matter of negotiation and is generally handled by the U.S. State Department. The Hague Convention is an international agreement regarding abducted children. The role of the Hague Convention in international child abductions is to provide standardized agreement on how signatory countries will handle abducted children while providing a framework for the negotiations surrounding the return of the child. However, these regulations only apply in countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention agreement.
Parents should not attempt an extrajudicial effort at recovering a child taken across international borders because this could hinder the legal process. In an international abduction, a child may be taken from their familiar life and isolated in an unfamiliar environment. Children who have undergone an international abduction may develop psychological problems including eating disorders and anxiety. The child could be moved often and might miss schooling in the process. In some cases, the child’s identity might even be concealed.
A parent who has concerns about an international abduction should immediately discuss those concerns with our experienced Certified Family Law attorneys. There are precautions that can be put in place during the divorce and child custody process to help ensure that the child is not removed from the country without the permission of the other parent and the Court itself. If the child has relatives in other countries that the co-parent will take them to see, then there might be items in the parenting agreement that ensure the other parent has regular contact with the child.