International Child Custody (Parental Responsibility) Laws

Experienced Chicago Based Attorneys

Today, the world we live in is much smaller than 50 years ago. With the ease, convenience and affordability of international travel and the remarkable advances in technology and communication, the number of international marriages is at an all time high. An unfortunate result of this increase in international marriages is that many of these marriages will end in divorce. An even more unfortunate result is that the number of child abductions and international child custody litigation will also increase. It is critical that you have an experienced and dedicated lawyer represent you in such a situation.

International Child Abduction and the Hague Convention

One of the most often and highly litigated issues in a divorce case is custody. Custody cases can be extremely costly, both emotionally and financially. Unfortunately, sometimes one parent decides to wrongfully abduct their child and move with them to a foreign country. The other parent is then forced to wage a battle for the return of his/her child. The relevant law that deals with such situations is the Hague Convention.

What Exactly is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was finalized in 1983 and was drafted to help ensure that children who were abducted from their home country (“country of habitual residence”) are immediately returned. The main goal of the Convention is to maintain and preserve the status quo of any child custody arrangement in the child’s home country. The Hague Convention only applies to “signatory” countries and as of February, 2015, there were 93 signatory states.

Hague Convention Procedures

The Hague Convention does not require a court to consider the merits of any custody dispute but rather to only determine which country such issues should be heard. The Convention mandates that a child who was a habitual resident in a signatory country be returned to that country as expeditiously as possible. In all such proceedings seeking the return of a child, the Convention calls for a final decision to be made within six (6) weeks of the filing of a Hague Petition.

What is Habitual Residence?

While there is no exact definition for the term “habitual resident,” courts are to look to the child’s ordinary residence in making such a determination. Basically, where was the child living prior to the abduction.

Defenses to Claims of Wrongful Removal

Under the Hague Convention, there are defenses to a claim of wrongful removal/abduction. A few are:

  • that the parent seeking the return of the child was not in fact exercising custody rights at the time of the removal;

  • that the parent seeking the return of the child agreed to the removal;

  • that there is a grave risk that returning the child would expose the child to physical and/or psychological harm.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

If you are dealing with an international child abduction case, it is imperative that you have an experienced and skilled family law attorney represent you to protect your rights. The attorneys at the Taradash Group, P.C. have the skills and experience you need to handle such complex matters. Complete our on line form or call (312) 775-1020 to speak to a dedicated lawyer.