If you have never heard of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, you should familiarize yourself with this international treaty if you are a divorced parent whose children’s other parent is a foreign national and/or maintains significant ties with another country. 

Unfortunately, despite what your court order says about your children’s custody and visitation, international parental kidnapping is an all-too-frequent event. Should your former spouse take your children overseas with him or her and then refuse to bring them back, you may well require Hague Convention help. 

Convention provisions 

Ninety-eight nations, including the United States, signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 1980. Per its provisions, each member nation agreed to respect the child custody laws of all other member nations. In addition, all nations agreed to help one another’s citizens get their children back as expeditiously as possible whenever an international child abduction occurs. 

Application for help 

In the U.S., the Convention’s Central Authority is the organization to which you must apply to obtain Hague assistance. Be sure to provide all of the following: 

  • Your complete identification information and that of your former spouse 
  • Complete identification information, including birth certificate, of each of your children you believe your former spouse abducted 
  • Any information you have about where your children may be 
  • Any information you have about your former spouse’s family members or friends who may be helping him or her hide the children 
  • Your legal grounds for applying to the Convention for help getting your children back 

Your wisest strategy is to include as much documentation as possible with your application. For instance, include verified or certified copies of the following: 

  • Your divorce decree 
  • Your custody order 
  • Your court-approved parenting plan 

Once the Central Authority verifies your information and conducts whatever additional investigation it requires, it will then contact the appropriate agency in the country where you believe your former spouse currently has your children. That agency will then conduct its own investigation and do everything possible to return your children to the U.S. – and you – as quickly and easily as possible.