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International Child Custody Issues: The Hague Convention

International Child Custody Issues: The Hague ConventionIn cases where a child is removed from one country where he or she resided in and brought to another country, what can a parent do? Many countries are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction (hereinafter referred to as the “Hague Convention”). The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty. It has been ratified by 98 countries. It provides a protocol for the return of a child unilaterally removed by a parent from one member country to another.

Article 3 of the Convention requires signatory countries to return children to the country of their habitual residence when they are wrongfully removed or retained in another country in breach of the custody rights of the left behind parent. The law of the state or country from which the child was removed determines custody rights; this adds some fluidity as in some countries an unmarried father may have rights upon the birth of a child, while other countries require a declaratory order to bestow custody rights.

Country of Habitual Residence

Custody rights are usually determines by the law of the country from which a child is removed. This can be complicated by the fact that fathers who have children out of marriage may be faced with the issue that some countries do not recognize custodial parental rights to unmarried fathers.

The Hague Convention is considered a treaty the United States is a party to which can be enforced by bringing a proceeding in a United States Court. There is an expedited procedure to do this.

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. represents parents in child custody cases. He’s been representing parents with regard to domestic and international custody cases for more than 35 years. He can be reached for a free consultation at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at

Child Abduction Cases

family law attorney on long islandParents abducting one or more of their children is a growing phenomena in the United States. Child abduction situations both within the country and outside of the country are crimes. Child abduction can be defined as the unauthorized taking of a child from the custodial parent. The rate of child abduction is increasing in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 204,000 cases of child abduction or child kidnapping have taken place in the past twelve months in the United States. These crimes affect the abandoned parent and the child.

If you believe the other parent may take your child out of the state you are in, or out of the country, you should immediately contact an experienced attorney who deals with these matters to protect yourself and your child or children. In addition, if you are the victim of domestic violence and you seek to have your child removed from the custody of the abusive parent, it is also extremely important you do not use self help remedies and skip town. Contact an experienced child custody lawyer to help you with these situations.

International Child Abduction

In some relationships it is more likely there will be a potential for a child abduction. These situations involve children born to a parent with dual citizenship or where the child has dual citizenship. Parents with a history of parental alienation and lack of cooperation with the other parent are also more likely to be involved in the removing of a child from the state or from the country.

The Hague Convention

There is an international treaty referred to as the Hague Convention. It is an international treaty which many countries in the world are part of. The United States has signed this treaty. The purpose of this treaty is to protect children from being taken to countries by one parent other than the country that was the child’s principal place of residence. The purpose of the Hague Convention is to establish uniform rules with regard to the returning of children to their home country from which they were improperly removed.

Legal Representation in Child Abduction Cases

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been involved in a variety of child abduction cases, both domestically and internationally. Our law firm has extensive experience in these matters and takes aggressive legal action to represent the victim and have the child returned to the appropriate state.

Should you be concerned you may be facing a child abduction situation, or should you be the victim of domestic violence or harassment, you need to take appropriate action to assert your legal remedies. If you are facing these situations, we urge you to contact our law firm immediately. Our phones are monitored 24/7. Attorneys are on duty seven days a week to talk to you. You can never replace a child that is kidnapped or abducted to another jurisdiction! divorce lawyer on Long Island

Father Unable to Have Son Returned to Dominican Republic Pursuant to The Hague Convention

international child custody attorneys on Long IslandIn a case involving custody issues determined under the Hague Convention concerning child custody, a petition was brought in Family Court in Kings County before Family Court Justice Paul Goetz. The mother in this case had obtained an order of custody. This order was obtained after the father defaulted in responding to the application for custody of the parties’ child. Thereafter, the father brought a proceeding to reopen the custody order. He sought to proceed in his petition for the return of his child to the Dominican Republic. He claimed pursuant to the Hague Convention, on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, he was entitled to return with the child to their home country, the Dominican Republic.

The Judge’s Decision

Justice Goetz denied the father’s application. He found the conditions for the mother to have the child permanently reside in the United States pursuant to the Hague Convention had been met. He took into consideration the child had obtained his permanent residency status (green card) in the United States. He found the child had become adjusted to life in the United States and enjoyed living here. The child had received excellent grades in school and had participated in sports in the community. He found the child spoke English. In addition, the child lived with a half brother and had relatives within close proximity with whom he spent a significant amount of time. In addition, the court noted more than a year had passed since the mother had “retained” the child in the United States. This, the court claimed, allowed the judge to consider whether the child had settled into his new environment. The court concluded the mother had met her obligations under the Hague Convention by demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence the child had settled and was doing well in New York and should remain in New York.

family law and divorce on Long IslandElliot S. Schlissel is a family law attorney who helps keep children in the United States under the Hague Convention under the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Child Custody Under The Hague Convention On The Civil Aspects Of International Child Abduction

child custody attorneysThe United States Supreme Court entertained a case on December 5, 2012, involving an international child custody battle. The case, Chafin vs. Chafin, involved a U.S. Army soldier and a Scottish woman. The Chafins were originally married in Scotland. Thereafter, they moved to Germany where Mr. Chafin was deployed by the United States military.

In 2007, the couple had a daughter. She was born in Germany and had dual citizenship. She was both a citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom. Thereafter, Mr. Chafin was redeployed by the United States military to Afghanistan. He stayed there for 15 months. During his deployment, the Chafins agreed that the mother and daughter would return to Scotland. Eventually, Mr. Chafin moved to Alabama and his wife and daughter followed him there in February 2010.

The Chafins’ Divorce

Mr. Chafin filed for divorce and for an emergency custody order in Alabama. As part of the emergency Alabama order, the daughter’s passports were moved to an unknown location. Due to the fact that Mrs. Chafin could not leave the country with her daughter and return to Scotland, she overstayed her visa. This resulted in her being deported in February 2011.

Mrs. Chafin Seeks The Return Of Her Child Under The Hague Convention

Mrs. Chafin filed a petition to have her child returned pursuant to the international obligations countries have under the Hague Convention. A Federal District Court Judge ruled in her favor. He found that Mr. Chafin had wrongfully kept his daughter and had no right to hide her passport. He also found that Scotland was her habitual residence and allowed Mrs. Chafin to return to Scotland with her child.

United States Supreme Court

This case eventually found its way to the United States Supreme Court. The issue before the Supreme Court is whether under the Hague Convention they can order the return of the child to the United States and whether the United States was the habitual residence of the child. This case is still pending!

About The Author

divorce and custody assistanceElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. and his associates have been involved in numerous cases dealing with international custody and visitation issues concerning countries that are signatures to The Hague Convention and countries that are not covered by this convention.

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