Intercultural marriages and intercultural relationships can be a beautiful thing. Indeed, the international language of love knows no boundaries. However, when two people cross cultural gaps to come together in love, things don't always last forever.
Intercultural breakups can be particularly difficult when two people share a child together. In some cases, the differences in the way one person's culture views child custody could result in the foreign parent feeling morally entitled to abscond with the child back to his or her country. It's in these cases where the Hague Convention comes into play.
How the Hague Convention addresses international child abduction
When a foreign parent unlawfully takes his or her kid to another country and refuses to return the child -- often in violation of a U.S. family court custody order -- authorities will consider it to be a case of international child abduction. This is an area of international law that's governed by the Hague Convention, a treaty that numerous countries around the world have signed.
The Hague Convention only applies to member nations who have signed the treaty. If the other parent has taken your child to a Hague-member nation, you stand a much better chance of getting him or her returned to you.
Here's what the Hague Convention requires of its member nations regarding child abduction:
Establish a Central Authority: Participating countries must create a "Central Authority" which serves as a point of contact and source of information for authorities and parents from other countries. In the United States, the Department of State serves as the Central Authority.
Prevent child abduction: The Hague Convention requires member countries to do everything they can to prevent child abduction, child sale and child trafficking -- whether it is done by a parent or some other kidnapper. The Convention further requires member nations to ensure that all international adoptions honor the best interests of the kids involved.
Honor foreign family court rulings: Member nations must honor the already-standing child custody rulings of foreign family law courts. They must also work with parents and streamline the process of accepting foreign legal documents without the complex protocol that's normally required for the introduction of foreign documents in their courts.
Are you navigating an international child custody battle?
Depending what the facts and circumstances of your international child custody disagreement, Hague Convention rules and protocols could apply to your situation. Parents of abducted children who have been taken to another country by a foreign parent, for example, may be able to use the Hague Convention to help them get their children home.