The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, simply called the Hague Convention, is an international treaty that deals with cases of international child abduction. The most typical cases involve one parent taking a child out of the country and failing to return. While Florida courts may deal with situations when parents move away with the child, dealing with other countries may limit their reach.
In order to violate the Convention, the child must be younger than 16 years. The parent must also remove the child from the country where the child usually lives. Further, this removal must violate custody laws in the state where the child lives.
Child’s habitual residence
In some cases, there may be a dispute as to which country was the child’s habitual residence. Courts usually look to the time period prior to the abduction to determine this. Thus, an abducting parent who managed to stay in another country for a prolonged time may not claim that the abduction now established a habitual residence in this country.
Once the court establishes habitual residence, it applies the custody laws of that state to determine whether the abducting parent violated them. Wrongful removal generally means leaving without the other parent’s consent or staying beyond its scope. For example, one parent may allow the other to take the child to France for two weeks; going to a different country or staying longer than two weeks, absent extenuating circumstances or additional agreement, may count as wrongful removal.
The Convention provides a framework for parents to seek the return of the child via the courts or administrative agencies of signatory nations where the child was taken. This can be a complex process and may involve litigation of multiple issues in several courts. An attorney with experience handling Hague Convention cases can give you a better overview of the factors in your particular situation and the best approach for resolution.