Hague Convention and International Child Abduction

What law governs child abduction and custody disputes between different countries?

International child abduction and child custody is governed by the international treaty of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction and has been signed by the United States and approximately 72 other countries. The Hague Convention attempts to set out an orderly and uniform process for signatory courts to identify a valid custody order and for the return of children abducted from and to signatory countries. Unfortunately, while a country may be a signatory to the Hague Convention this does not necessarily mean they will recognize a child custody order from the United States. The U.S. State Department makes regular public reports identifying whether a county is complaint with the Hague Convention.

Hague litigation is complex and difficult to simplify.  The residence of the children prior to abduction, the due process rights accorded to the abducting parent, and the compliance of the country to which the children were abducted to are all important factors in any Hague litigation.

Which countries have signed the Hague Convention? Which countries have signed, but are not compliant?

The US State Department keeps an ongoing list of those countries which have signed the Hague Convention. Additionally, they also keep a list of countries that have signed the Hague Convention, but refuse to comply in full with the treaty’s requirements.  An up to date list and reports are available on the US Department of State website.

How Can I prevent my child from being abducted Internationally?

The Family Code provides Courts and parents a series of tools to prevent the international abduction of children.  These are found in TFC 153.503.

(1) appoint a person other than the parent of the child who presents a risk of abducting the child as the sole managing conservator of the child;

(2) require supervised visitation of the parent by a visitation center or independent organization until the court finds under Section 153.501 that supervised visitation is no longer necessary;

(3) enjoin the parent or any person acting on the parent’s behalf from:

(A) disrupting or removing the child from the school or child-care facility in which the child is enrolled;  or

(B) approaching the child at any location other than a site designated for supervised visitation;

(4) order passport and travel controls, including controls that:

(A) prohibit the parent and any person acting on the parent’s behalf from removing the child from this state or the United States;

(B) require the parent to surrender any passport issued in the child’s name, including any passport issued in the name of both the parent and the child;  and

(C) prohibit the parent from applying on behalf of the child for a new or replacement passport or international travel visa;

(5) require the parent to provide:

(A) to the United States Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues and the relevant foreign consulate or embassy:

(i) written notice of the court-ordered passport and travel restrictions for the child;  and

(ii) a properly authenticated copy of the court order detailing the restrictions and documentation of the parent’s agreement to the restrictions;  and

(B) to the court proof of receipt of the written notice required by Paragraph (A)(i) by the United States Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues and the relevant foreign consulate or embassy;

(6) order the parent to execute a bond or deposit security in an amount sufficient to offset the cost of recovering the child if the child is abducted by the parent to a foreign country;

(7) authorize the appropriate law enforcement agencies to take measures to prevent the abduction of the child by the parent;  or

(8) include in the court’s order provisions:

(A) identifying the United States as the country of habitual residence of the child;

(B) defining the basis for the court’s exercise of jurisdiction;  and

(C) stating that a party’s violation of the order may subject the party to a civil penalty or criminal penalty or to both civil and criminal penalties.

Practice Areas

From the wide-ranging issues of divorce to the delicate nature of child support and child custody, McFarland Law, P.C. focuses on a variety of issues and cases dealing directly and indirectly with matters of family law.

Divorce

A Texas divorce involves both the division of the parties’ property and, if children are involved, child custody and child support.

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Child Custody

Child custody may be initially rendered in a Divorce or a Suit to Establish the Parent Child-Relationship, which is a custody case between unmarried parties.

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Child Support

A child support order may be initially rendered in a Divorce or a Suit to Establish the Parent-Child Relationship, which is a custody case between unmarried parties.

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Spousal Support

Spousal support may be awarded in cases where the parties have been married more than 10 years or a spouse has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a crime of family violence.

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Mediation

Mediation is a non-binding confidential settlement conference at which a neutral mediator is present to help you and your spouse reach a final settlement of your case.

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Grandparent Visitation

Grandparents have the right to file a lawsuit for visitation and managing conservatorship of a grandchild in certain circumstances OR if both parents consent to the grandparent filing a suit.

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Domestic Violence

The Texas Family Code has special provisions for relationships where domestic abuse has occurred or is alleged.

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Modifications

Parents have a right to have their prior custody and child support orders reviewed when there has been a change in circumstances.

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Paternity

Paternity of a child may be initially determined in a Divorce or a Suit to Establish the Parent-Child Relationship, which is a custody case between unmarried parties.

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Interstate Issues

When a child custody case involves individuals in different states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) determines jurisdiction.

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Hague Convention

International child abduction and child custody is governed by the international treaty of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.

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Enforcement

If a parent has not complied with an order for possession and access to a child or an obligation to pay child support, and that parent does not have a valid defense, then the Court may fine or jail a non-compliant parent.

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