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International child abduction and child custody laws

It can sometimes be difficult for divorced parents in Texas to work out a shared parenting plan. When parents finally do reach an agreement on custody and visitation, the parents are legally obligated to follow that agreement. If a divorced parent brings their child to another country without the other parent's permission, the parent is breaking both U.S. law and international laws. 

The Hague Abduction Convention

To prevent international child abductions, a group of 85 countries formed a treaty called the Hague Abduction Convention. Under the Convention, the governments of all of the countries agree to try to facilitate the quick return of abducted children to their home countries. Convention countries agree that child custody issues should be resolved in the country where the child had a habitual residence.

How can a parent get their child returned?

If your child has been abducted to another country by their other parent, you must act quickly. Waiting too long could result in the child becoming settled in the new country, which would make return more difficult. The requirements for filing a Hague case are:

  • Your child is a habitual resident of one Convention country, and your child was illegally brought to another Convention country.
  • Your child's removal from his or her home country violated your legal custody agreement.
  • Both countries involved were signed onto the Hague Convention at the time of your child's abduction.
  • You child is under age 16.

What to watch out for from your ex-spouse

You may think that your ex-spouse has no defense for his or her decision to bring your child to another country. In reality, some parents do fight against Hague Convention laws and win. Some of the defenses your ex-spouse could use are:

  • You were not exercising your custody rights when your child was removed from the country.
  • Your child is mature and has decided they want to stay in the new country.
  • It has been over a year, and your child is settled in the new country.
  • Your child would be in an intolerable situation if they were returned.

Speak to a lawyer about non-Hague Convention countries

Things can get even more complicated when children are abducted to non-Hague Convention countries. However, a child custody lawyer may be able to help.

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