Child custody disputes are among the most contentious and legally challenging issues in Texas family courts. Child custody matters become more emotionally charged and legally difficult when they involve a child being taken from the jurisdiction of the United States. In such a situation, the Hague Abduction Convention can come into play. The Convention enumerates a set of defenses when a parent petitions for the return to a child to the United States.
Six defenses to a petition for the return of a child
The Hague Abduction Convention sets forth six specific defenses that can be raised by a parent who has taken a child from the United States. These defenses to a petition to return a child to the United States are:
- Grave risk that return of the child will expose the minor to physical or psychological harm or place the child in some type of intolerable situation
- Child objects to return to the United States and the minor is of an age and level of emotional maturity that his or her preferences should be taken into consideration
- More than a year has passed since the removal of the child from the United States and the minor has become settled in the foreign location
- The party seeking return of the child previously consented to the removal of the minor from the country or ultimately acquiesced to that removal
- Return of the child would violate the principles of human rights or fundamental fairness in the nation where the minor is held
- The party seeking the return of the child to the United States was not exercising custody of that minor at the time of the removal from the country
Legal assistance might be necessary
Child custody cases involving the Hague Abduction Convention are highly complex. Legal representation is necessary in order to navigate the Convention as well as associated Texas laws.