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The Hague Convention and international custody disputes

| Dec 11, 2019 | family law

When parents are going through a divorce and one is from another country, that parent may take the children to that country in an effort to obtain custody. When this happens, parents may find themselves in an international custody dispute. The first step for parents in Indiana may be to find out whether the country is a signatory to the Hague Convention.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction has been ratified by more than 90 countries. According to the Hague Convention, the law of the country that was the child’s habitual residence prevails in international custody cases. However, determining what country fits this label may also be in dispute. The Hague Convention is designed to provide a swift resolution to international custody disputes and quickly return a child to the custodial parent, but in practice, the situation can be complex. Parents in foreign countries should be aware that the law of that country may govern the final decision. For example, unmarried fathers may not have any custody rights in some countries.

An example of a situation that might involve the Hague Convention is one in which an American parent is living with a French spouse in the United States. If the French spouse takes the children to France, the matter might be resolved using the Hague Convention.

A parent who is concerned that the other parent may take the child to another country might want to consult an attorney. There are measures that can be taken by a family law court to help prevent this. For example, the parent can get a court order that prevents the other parent from taking the child out of the country. This court order may be necessary for law enforcement in the United States to stop the parent and child from leaving.