The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction gives child custody Orders a legal reach into other countries.
While it is more often than not that parents of minor children, even when legally separated, divorced, or unmarried, tend to live in (relatively) close proximity, and such have residences in the same City or State, it does happen that parents of minor children can be residents and citizens of separate nations; living separately in different countries while each maintaining rights to either custody or parenting time/access with the minor child. Problems can arise when a child custody Order of this State is violated by a parent attempting to remove his or her minor child to another jurisdiction, especially when that jurisdiction has custody laws that are inconsistent with the custody laws of this State. The purpose of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction is to eliminate any incentive for a parent to attempt this wrongful removal, by giving legal effect to a child custody Order of a participating nation, (such as the United States), even if the child is in said a foreign nation, provided that said nation is a member of the Hague Convention. 42 U.S.C. § 11601(a)(4) (2008). Congress implemented the Convention by enacting the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 11601-11610 (2008).
The Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, done at The Hague on October 25, 1980, establishes legal rights and procedures for the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed or retained, as well as for securing the exercise of custody and visitation rights. The objective of the Hague Convention is to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in a Contracting State, and to ensure that rights of custody and parenting time/access under the laws of the Contracting State are effectively respected in the Contracting States. Hague Convention, Article I. The purpose of the Hague Convention is not to prohibit the prospective removal of a child; but rather, to provide a remedy in the event of the removal of a minor child in breach of a custody Order. If the removal of a minor child to a foreign country is not in violation of the custody Order of the participating nation (i.e. United States) then the Hague Convention will not apply, as the custody Order is not being violated. Conversely, if the parent establishes wrongful removal or retention of a minor child, the Hague Convention does apply, and dictates that the child must be promptly returned by the courts of the State where the child is being wrongfully retained. 42 U.S.C. §§ 11601-11610. The Hague Convention does not give the Court of a participating nation authority to adjudicate the merits of an underlying custody claim, but, only to enforce the custody order in the event of a wrongful removal. See Ryder v. Ryder 49 F. 3d 369, 372 (8Th Cir. 1995).
The Hague Convention provides that the child custody and parenting time/access schedule is enforced in any jurisdiction that is a signatory to the Convention. The child who is removed from the Contracting State in violation of the Court Order of that Contracting State, or the parent whose rights have been interfered with will have a remedy in any country the child is removed to, and which is a signatory to the Hague Convention.
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