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The Hague Convention and international child abduction

California parents who are in a custody dispute and who are concerned about international abduction might wonder how the Hague Convention protects them and their children. Although one parent may have custody, this court decision is not necessarily recognized in other countries. The Hague Convention is set up to provide a framework for legal systems from different countries to work together to resolve a dispute.

There are several provisions that must be in place before an application can be filed. The child must have been habitually resident in the country they were removed from and the parent's custodial rights must have been violated. The countries in question must be signatories to the treaty. The child must also be younger than 16 when the application is filed.

The other country is permitted to refuse to return the child if the child is old enough and mature enough to object. It may also refuse if it believes the child will be in physical or psychological danger. Finally, refusal may occur if the fundamental rights of the children in the country where they are being held will be violated if they are returned to the country where they were resident.

People who are concerned about an international child abduction might be able to discuss with their attorney whether there are steps they can take to reduce the likelihood of it occurring. For example, they can make sure that the child is not issued a passport without the approval of both parents. In some cases, requiring the other parent to have monitored visitation may be appropriate. If the other parent does want to take the child to his or her home country to visit family, it might be possible to put certain rules in place such as requiring a daily phone call between the child and the custodial parent.

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