The Hague Abduction Convention is an international treaty implemented in the U.S. and almost 100 countries worldwide. Click here for member country list.
The Abduction Convention is designed to provide a swift judicial mechanism to swiftly return internationally abducted children to their home countries for resolution of all underlying custodial disputes. Prompt return of abducted children helps to ameliorate the harms of international child abduction. In order to obtain a return remedy under the Convention, the petitioner must prove that they had “rights of custody” that they were actually exercising at the time of the child wrongful removal or retention. This is not a “best interest” analysis because the Convention is predicated on the fact it’s in each child’s best interest to have their custodial disputes resolved in their home country. There are few defenses to a return petition but one that frequently reappears in litigation is the “grave risk of harm” defense. This defense must be established in the United States by clear and convincing evidence. There is a substantial body of international case law interpreting the grave risk of harm defense which is fact specific to each child’s circumstance.
If your child has been abducted or is being wrongfully retained, you need to act swiftly to access justice. Delay in pursuing your legal remedies could result in one of the limited defenses under the Abduction Convention in that your child has now been “well settled” in a new environment. While other technical defenses exist, removing the well-settled defense is something parents control by promptly coming forward to assert their rights under the Convention.
Some children may be removed to non-Hague Convention Countries. This does not mean the left-behind parent has no legal remedy, it does mean that the remedy will not be found within the parameters of the Abduction Convention. Remedies must be explored in the context of each country’s legal and political system. We can help you work with foreign countries and explore potential remedies to assert your rights and bring your child home.
The Convention only provides a civil remedies to international child abduction which include a provision for attorney fees when a parent prevails on a return petition. There are criminal sanctions that may provide additional leverage in securing the return of your child including the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), the International Parental Kidnaping Act (IPKA), If your child has been abducted internationally, you need to prepare a comprehensive strategy to coordinate all available civil and criminal remedies to enhance the likelihood of success.
Experienced Fort Lauderdale Family Lawyers
Timothy Arcaro is an expert on the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Abduction Convention). He has worked with the United States Department of State, Office of Children Legal Issues and the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children for Over two decades. He has lectured and is a published author on the Abduction Convention. Timothy Arcaro has also provided in-court testimony as an expert witness on the Abduction Convention including risk assessment and international child custody relocation matters. Tim has been recognized multiple times for his work in representing parents in Hague Abduction cases by the U.S. Department of State. (link to certificate of Merit?)
Laura Arcaro has also successfully returned and reunited children pursuant to the Abduction Convention. She has also successfully represented clients in appellate matters including in Hague Abduction cases. Laura has also been recognized by the U.S. Department of State for her work to reunite parents with children abducted internationally.
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