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GOURAS & AMIS P.L.L.C.

Child Custody Information:
About Contested International Custody

 

  INTERNATIONAL CUSTODY CASES
 

Common Abduction Situations

Handling the International Abduction Case

Non-Hague Countries

Countries Under the Hague Convention

Operation of the Hague Convention

 

INTERNATIONAL CUSTODY CASES

COMMON ABDUCTION SITUATIONS

The most common type of abduction is by one of the parents. International abductions usually occur when one parent has a background or upbringing in another country. When the marriage splits up it is not uncommon for one of the parents to want to return to their home country where their family, friends and support system are located. On some occasions that parent might bring the children out of the country. The other type of common abduction is in a custody dispute. When one of the parents "loses" in court, they sometimes feel that they can still "win" by abducting the children out of the country. In any of these abduction situations, the remaining parent is left trying to obtain the return of the children, or in some cases, trying to have any relationship with the children whatsoever.

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HANDLING THE INTERNATIONAL ABDUCTION CASE

How an international abduction case is handled depends entirely on whether the country to which the child is abducted is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

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NON-HAGUE COUNTRIES

When a child is taken to any country that has not signed the Hague Convention, the remaining parent must pursue their case in the courts of the country to which the child has been taken. This can be very expensive, and is often one of the motivations for removing the child in the first instance. Competent counsel should be obtained in the other country immediately. Often times the removing parent will file a custody action in the other country in an attempt to legitimize the abduction. If the remaining parents interests are not represented adequately, the other country might enter custody orders by default.

Depending upon the country, there is some chance that they will order the return of the child to the country from which they were taken. Often, however, the other country's courts will take jurisdiction of the case even though the children have no connection to that country. The remaining parents only recourse is to fight the custody battle in the other country.

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COUNTRIES UNDER THE HAGUE CONVENTION

The following countries have signed the Hague Convention and are bound by its terms as of January, 2007:

ARGENTINA
1 June 1991
AUSTRALIA
1 July 1988
AUSTRIA
1 October 1988
BAHAMAS
1 January 1994
BELGIUM
1 May 1999
BELIZE
1 November 1989
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
1 December 1991
BRAZIL
1 December 2003
BULGARIA
1 January 2005
BURKINO FASO
1 November 1992
CANADA
1 July 1988
CHILE
1 July 1994
CHINA:
Hong Kong Special Admin. Region
1 September 1997
Macau
1 March 1999
COLOMBIA
1 June 1996
CROATIA
1 December 1991
CZECH REPUBLIC
1 March 1998
CYPRUS
1 March 1995
DENMARK
1 July 1991
ECUADOR
1 April 1992
FINLAND
1 August 1994
FRANCE
1 July 1988
GERMANY
1 December 1990
GREECE
1 June 1993
HONDURAS
1 June 1994
HUNGARY
1 July 1988
ICELAND
1 December 1996
IRELAND
1 October 1991
ISRAEL
1 December 1991
ITALY
1 May 1995
LUXEMBOURG
1 July 1988
FMR. YUGOSLAV REP. OF MACEDONIA
1 December 1991
MALTA
1 February 2003
MAURITIUS
1 October 1993
MEXICO
1 October 1991
MONACO
1 June 1993
NETHERLANDS
1 September 1990
NEW ZEALAND
1 October 1991
NORWAY
1 April 1989
PANAMA
1 June 1994
POLAND
1 November 1992
PORTUGAL
1 July 1988
ROMANIA
1 June 1993
SERBIA
1 December 1991
SLOVAK REPUBLIC
1 February 2001
SLOVENIA
1 April 1995
SOUTH AFRICA
1 November 1997
SPAIN
1 July 1988
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
1 June 1995
SWEDEN
1 June 1989
SWITZERLAND
1 July 1988
TURKEY
1 August 2000
 
UNITED KINGDOM:
1 July 1988
Bermuda
1 March 1999

Falkland Islands
1 June 1998

Montserrat
1 March 1999

Cayman Islands
1 August 1998

Isle of Man
1 September 1991

URUGUAY
1 September 2004
VENEZUELA
1 January 1997
ZIMBABWE
1 August 1995


Additional countries are being added all of the time. If you do not see the country on this list, you need to call your county's State Department to see if the country you are interested in has signed the treaty.

In the United States, the State Department can be reached at:
Office of Children's Issues
CA/OCS/CI, Room 4811
Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818

The U.S. State Department's current listing of countries can be found at: List of Hague Convention Signatory Countries.

To actually file an application to have the U.S. Central Authority assist in the return of the child, you must contact
The National Center for Missing Children
1-800-THE LOST (1-800-843-5678).

If the child has been taken from the U.S. to another country, the Central Authority will assist you in processing the papers and the hiring of an attorney. Some countries provide free or low cost attorneys. In cases where children are abducted to the U.S., NO FREE ATTORNEYS ARE PROVIDED. You are solely responsible for obtaining and paying your own attorney in the United States.

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OPERATION OF THE HAGUE CONVENTION

The Hague Convention applies to parents who were exercising their custody rights at the time of the abduction, where the child in question is below the age of 16 and was habitually residing in the country from which he was taken. The Hague Convention provides for assistance where the remaining parent has lost his visitation rights, but does not require the return of the child. Custody rights need not be in the form of a court order for the Hague Convention to apply.

Where all of the following conditions are met, the Hague Convention mandates the return of the child to the country where the child was taken from, if APPLICATION IS MADE WITHIN ONE YEAR. If application is not made within one year, the court in the country where the child is removed has discretion whether or not to return the child. If application is made within one year, the court must return the child, unless one of several narrow exceptions apply. Among these are that the child would be at "grave risk" if returned to its home country.

The Hague Convention specifically provides that the court is not to decide custody, but is simply to return the child to its home country, where any custody issues can be taken up there.

On the whole, the Hague Convention has worked very well and has been an extremely positive step in deterring abductions and promptly returning children when they are abducted. Statistically, the return rate has been very high. As in any other case, however, each case is different, and no guarantees of a return can be made. To assure your best chance that the Hague Convention will be followed as it was intended, it is best to obtain a competent attorney as soon as possible.

 

Also refer to:

CONTESTED CUSTODY CASES, IN GENERAL

 

INTERSTATE CUSTODY CASES

 

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Gouras & Amis PLLC is a family law firm that practices exclusively in the area of family law. Gouras & Amis attorneys have over 25 years experience in both settling and litigating family law cases.

To schedule a consultation appointment
by e-mail, , or call 253-395-5552.


Gouras & Amis PLLC
Family Law Attorneys
Emphasizing difficult Family Law cases in the greater
Seattle-Tacoma, Washington area

Creekside at Centerpoint
Building One
20415 72nd Ave. S.,
Suite 420
Kent, Washington 98032

 
Phone (253) 395-5552 Fax (253) 395-1022
e-mail:

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