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What is the Hague Convention and how does it arise in custody cases?

If you and your spouse have children and are currently considering divorce, you probably have questions about child custody laws in Pennsylvania or how custody arrangements work if one parent relocates to another state. For you, just understanding how state and interstate custody laws work together can be challenging enough.

But imagine if your spouse is not from this country and they want to return to their home country with the children after the divorce is finalized. For parents in these types of custody cases, international custody laws could very well come into play, but they may be vastly different from one country to the next. In the end, parents in these types of situations oftentimes face far more challenging circumstances than most.

Parental abduction in international custody cases

Even though it's possible in some cases for parents to make an international custody arrangement work for the benefit of their children, not all cases work out so well. In some cases, parents have been known to ignore state laws, choosing instead to leave the country with the children and without the other parent's permission. In these types of cases, a parent will oftentimes go to another country they believe will allow them to maintain custody.

Unfortunately, this decision is not only a bad idea as it constitutes parental abduction, the logic behind the decision is ultimately flawed, especially if a parent flees to a country that has signed the Hague Convention.

What is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention is an agreement between participating countries that guarantees the recognition of custody orders issued in other countries. By signing this treaty, participating countries agree to:

  • Promptly secure children who have been wrongfully removed by a parent
  • Enforce the terms of an existing custody agreement
  • If applicable, return the child to the other parent's custody

Since its inception, the Hague Convention has been signed by more than 70 countries, the most recent being Thailand, which signed on April 1, 2016.

The Hague Convention gives left-behind parents hope

Parental abduction cases can be incredibly scary for left-behind parents who often worry if they will ever see their children again. If the offending parent and innocent child are found in a country that has signed the Hague Convention, however, left-behind parents can rest easy knowing that the foreign jurisdiction will honor the terms of the existing custody arrangement and help bring their child home.

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