RETURN OF CHILDREN TO THEIR COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE UNDER THE HAGUE CONVENTION
When a child is kidnapped/removed from another country and is brought to the United States, the left-behind parent may petition the US Court for the return of the child to the child’s country of residency.
The stay-behind parent can file a petition for the return of his/her child under the terms of the Hague Convention. The petitioner must prove that the child was wrongfully removed from his habitual place of residence. A child is wrongfully removed when the left-behind parent is able to prove that at the time of the removal he had “rights of custody” and that they were being exercised at the time of the removal.
The “rights of custody” required under the convention for the return of the child may arise out of an agreement of the parents, a court order or by operation of law. It is important to note that on many occasions a child is removed from his/her country when there has not been a previous court order deciding custody of the child. However, even in the absence of a court order granting custody rights, a parent derives custody rights by operation of law emanating from either the constitution or legislation such as the concept of patria potestas. These rights of custody are to be found in the legislation of the country of habitual residence.
An attorney experienced in the return of children under the Hague Convention should be consulted as a successful petition requires the knowledge of the US and foreign law and must be able to educate the presiding judge on both. We at Sallato & Associates, P.A. have successfully represented left behind parents from Australia, England, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil.