International Child Abduction

The astonishing facts are the following; during 2011 alone, almost 1,500 American children were abducted and taken to a foreign country by one of their parents, or by a relative.  The above, according to “The 2012, report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects for International Child Abduction”.  This report is annually presented by the US Department of State, to the US Congress.  The report includes only information about documented cases, (where left behind parent speaks up).  Thus, the real number of international child abductions could be likely more than 1,500 at year.  Unfortunately, some parents do not report or do not properly document their case.  The above could be as result of lack of information, lack of resources, or simply because the left behind parent does not receive legal advice on crucial time, by an expert in Private international law.

Sometimes, the left behind parents desperately seek to start an ineffective and uncertain legal process under domestic law, such as petitioning a family law court for an emergency order for custody of the minor.   However, such order (although it is often granted), does not guarantee return of the minor to US soil because a US Court  order for custody standing alone in a foreign Jurisdiction does not have any binding effect to force  the abducting parent  to return the child to the place of the removal.  Although enforcement of a US custody order may be granted by foreign courts, such procedure is not quick or simple.  And yet it does not guarantee the return of the child to the US. Instead, the appropriate legal action to bring your child back is to initiate International Legal Proceedings under “The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction”. (The Hague Convention).

The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty, which has been signed, and ratified as to date by 87 countries in the world.  This International Statutory Law has been in force since 1983.  Among many others, countries like United States, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Ecuador, Spain, Paraguay and Venezuela, have adopted the Convention as valid and applicable International law into their judicial systems.

The Convention provides both the substantive law, and some general procedural rules for the initiation of proceedings to seek the return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence.

Basically, parents have two options to chose:

a) file a petition before the central authorities designed in the convention, and wait undetermined time until the public entities from both of the countries involved ( requesting country & requested country), follow the procedures established on the convention., or

b) hire a private lawyer with expertise in the area of International Private law who may be able to represent her legal interest and seek the return of the child directly in the place where the child is located, reducing the delays and pursuing the matter diligently and promptly to make sure the courts in such place enforce the convention.

It is not a requirement to hire a private lawyer to represent you in a Hague case.  However, statistics indicate, that the parents who chose to retain private counsel have experienced less delays and better results than the unrepresented parents.

Therefore, if you or your family member or friend has suffered international child abduction, you need not just a lawyer, you need a lawyer who has the experience and the substantial legal knowledge about the Hague convention.  So call our office and talk and get the answers to all of your questions., and more importantly get the right lawyer for your case. The offices of Jesus Eduardo Arias are simply the best place to be when it comes to matters of International family law.  Give us a call now, we are here to help you!

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