When you fall in love with and marry someone from a foreign country, you live a true international love story. Unfortunately, if your marriage goes sour, your life can become quite complicated, especially if you have children. Whether you stay married or obtain a Texas divorce, your spouse or ex-spouse may decide to take the children overseas, supposedly to visit his or her relatives. Once there, however, (s)he then refuses to return the children to you and their home in the United States.
Parental abduction represents a form of illegal kidnapping that is more common than you may realize. In the event you and your spouse are still married, or if you are divorced with a court order giving you primary custody of your children, you may be able to obtain help getting your children back via the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
The Hague Conference on Private International Law drafted this treaty back in 1980. The 98 countries that signed it, including the United States, agreed to respect, honor and abide by each other’s child custody laws. Specifically, all 98 countries agreed to cooperate with each other to return internationally abducted children to their native countries as expeditiously as possible.
Applying to the Convention
Your first step in seeking Convention assistance must be applying to the Convention’s Central Authority in the United States with the help of your attorney. Your application must include all of the following information:
- Identifying information for yourself, your spouse or ex-spouse, and any child currently in his or her possession
- Date of birth of each abducted child
- Your grounds for assistance application
- Full information regarding your children’s current whereabouts
- Full information regarding the person(s) you believe has or have your children
In addition to the application itself, supply whatever supporting documentation you have with regard to your children, including verified or certified copies of the following:
- Marriage license if you and your children's other parent are married
- Divorce decree if you are divorced from your children’s other parent
- Custody order
- Parenting plan
- Additional court document(s) proving your legal custody of your children whether sole or joint
Once the Central Authority receives your application and documentation, it will review and verify all your information. It will then work with the country where your children are to return them to you as soon as reasonably possible.
While this educational information is not legal advice, it can help you understand the Hague Convention and how it could assist you.