Problems With Enforcement of the Hague Convention



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Today’s global culture has led to a greater number of marriages between people from different countries than in decades past. As a result, international child abduction has increasingly become a problem. To put the issue in perspective, consider that 2,800 children have been abducted from the United States — more children than attend the largest grade school in the country.

Today’s global culture has led to a greater number of marriages between people from different countries than in decades past. As a result, international child abduction has increasingly become a problem. To put the issue in perspective, consider that 2,800 children have been abducted from the United States — more children than attend the largest grade school in the country.

Eighty countries, including the United States, have adopted the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions. The Hague Convention was developed “to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State of their habitual residence.” The intentions are good and the desire is there, but enforcement is lacking.

U.S. Government Faces Difficulties
The United States government is powerless in its attempts to coerce foreign countries to obey the Hague Convention. Countries not part of the Convention create even more difficulty in returning abducted children. For example, Japan, which is currently contemplating joining the Convention, is thought to be harboring over 100 children abducted from the United States.

Child abduction has also crossed borders in the opposite direction; a child was recently brought into the United States contrary to a ruling in another country. Jacquelyn Abbott married her husband, Timothy, in England. The couple had a son a few years later in Hawaii, and a few years after that the couple divorced in Chile. A Chilean court awarded custody to the mother and visitation rights to the father. The court also forbade both parents from leaving the country with their son.

Ms. Abbott ignored the court’s instruction, taking her son to Texas, where her ex-husband found her. Mr. Abbott brought a legal action to return his son to Chile, and the United States Supreme Court recently heard his case. A decision is pending. The Supreme Court will address the questions of whether the father has a right to custody, and if he does, what action the United States must take to remedy the mother’s abduction.

The decision will surely affect international parenting disputes involving the United States.

What to Do If Your Child Has Been Abducted
If your child has been abducted and taken to a foreign country, contact an attorney who is experienced in matters of international child abduction, including the Hague Convention.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Bell
Rick was born and raised in the Houston area and graduated college from Southwestern University in 1994. After graduation, Rick elected to stay near his family in Texas by attending law school at South Texas College of Law. After graduating from law school in 1997, Rick immediately began concentrating his legal practice to family law and criminal defense by litigating cases throughout the State of Texas.

Copyright Richard T. Bell & Associates, PC
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.



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