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Representing a Domestic Violence Victim in a Hague Convention Case

Cases involving domestic violence, international laws, or allegations of child abductions are always difficult. But when a client comes to you and describes a case involving all three elements, even a seasoned family law practitioner may feel overwhelmed. At The Hague Domestic Violence Project, we have developed practice resources* and informational guides for general understanding of Hague Convention cases, as well as a brief bank and links to Hague Convention provisions for specific citation.

*For the full Practice Guide please submit a request

How Does the Hague Convention Apply in US Courts?

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is actually a series of agreements and provisions that have been adopted by numerous member countries to govern issues with international implications. Specifically, the Hague Convention governs the process by which a child, alleged by one parent to have been abducted by the other, is returned to his or her country of habitual residence. The United States has ratified the Hague Convention provisions on international child abduction and was put into force via its implementing legislation, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA).

The intent of the Hague Convention is to promote a return of the child to his or her country of habitual residence to allow the local courts to determine a custody award based on local rules and substantive law. The Hague Convention was originally proposed in response to numerous cases in which one parent, typically the abusive parent, abducted a child to the abusive parent's home country rather than fight for child custody in courts that could be favorable to an abuse victim. Recently, domestic violence victims fleeing to their own home countries with their children have had the tables turned on them as the left-behind parents have petitioned for removal of the child back to the batterer's country of residence.

What Are Common Elements and Differences in Hague Convention Cases?

The legal process governing removal of a child alleged to be abducted across an international border in the United States and in other signatory countries will have common elements, such as the participation of a Central Authority. But cases may also have differences, depending on the countries involved, because the decision whether to grant the petition for removal of the child will be decided by the court system in the country to which the child had been taken.

Contact The Hague Domestic Violence Project

If you are an attorney representing a domestic violence victim who has fled to the United States with his or her children and now faces a petition for removal, use this site to find information on The Hague Convention, bench guides, and connections to other lawyers who have represented domestic abuse victims facing petitions for removal. If you are unable to find what you need here, please contact us.