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International abductions: The Hague Abduction Convention

A Mississippi child may be illegally removed from the care of his or her legal guardian, often by a parent, because of a child custody dispute or other divorce issues. If that parent lives abroad, it may further complicate the situation. Parents seeking the return of their child taken abroad have options, depending on whether the country has adopted The Hague Abduction Convention.

The Hague Abduction Convention is an international treaty that allows parents to request access to, or the return of, their child wrongfully taken across international borders. Parents may receive assistance by completing a Convention Application, but only if the other country has adopted the Convention. They must indicate on the application whether they wish to have their child returned, gain access to or visitation with, their child.

Applicants must provide information about themselves, the child and an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the child's removal. Details such as the date and place of abduction and the parents' legal relationship should be included as well. The applicant must also cite legal grounds for invoking the Convention and therefore must provide evidence of their custodial rights, details of any ongoing legal proceedings and information about the child's habitual residence.

The parent completing the Convention application may include additional helpful information such as names and contact information for anyone in the foreign country who may be able to help locate the child. Supporting documents such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, evidence of child custody rights and recent color photographs of the child and alleged abductor may also be required. A future post will discuss how the United States Department of State can help in cases of international abduction to a country that has not adopted The Hague Convention.

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