The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted from one parent by another between two countries that are member nations. Proceedings on the Convention take place in an expedited manner and can be held in state or federal court. The Convention only applies to children under the age of 16 who have been removed or retained from their country of habitual residence. The Treaty also applies to countries that are signatories the Treaty. To see if your child was taken to a country that is a signatory to the Treaty, check on line at www.travel.state.gov/ .
Before initiating a civil court action regarding the wrongful removal or retention of a child under the age of 16 in state or federal court, the first step is to file a Hague Application with the Central Authority of the United States (the State Department) or the central authority of the country where the child has been abducted if the country is a signatory to the Hague Convention.
The Hague Application is available from the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues, online at www.travel.state.gov/ along with filing instructions. The U.S. Central Authority reviews Hague applications and forwards them to the foreign central authority. The central authorities act as facilitators and not act as legal representatives for either party. You may need legal counsel to assist you in preparing your Hague Application. You will then need to file an actual action in the jurisdiction where your child is taken. Typically, legal counsel is retained in the country where the child is taken to assist in the procedures of obtaining the successful return of the child.