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What is the Hague Convention and why might you need its help?

As a divorced parent, you may have concerns about your children visiting with their other parents. Specifically, if your former spouse lives in, or has substantial ties to, another country, you may fear that he or she will take your children there and refuse to return them to you.

In the event this distressing situation arises, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction can help you get your children back.

Understanding the Convention

In 1980, 98 nations, including the United States, joined together to enforce their respective child custody laws. As part of this agreement, the nations pledged to help each other if a parent abducted his or her children from one member nation, took them to another member nation, and then refused to return them to their country of origin.

Applying for help

If you would like to avail yourself of this help, your first step consists of applying to the U.S. Convention Central Authority, the organization tasked with providing help when an international abduction occurs. Your attorney can help you gather the extensive documentation required to accompany your application, including the following:

  • Complete identification information for each child
  • Complete identification information for your former spouse
  • Information regarding the location where you believe your former spouse took your children
  • Information regarding your former spouse’s family and friends who may be helping him or she hide your children
  • Your legal basis for applying to the Central Authority for assistance, such as copies of your divorce decree, custody order and parenting plan

The Central Authority will verify all your information and then contact its counterpart in the country where you believe your former spouse has hidden your children. The two countries will then conduct their own investigations and do everything legally possible to return your children to you.