The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction


In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in international child abductions.  International child abductions have serious consequences for both the child and the left-behind parent. The child is removed, not only from contact with the other parent, but also from his or her home environment and transplanted to a culture with which he or she may have had no prior ties. International abductors move the child to another State with a different legal system, social structure, culture and, often, language. These differences, plus the physical distance generally involved, can make locating, recovering and returning internationally abducted children complex and problematic.

Fortunately, an international civil treaty, called The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, was established providing an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted from one member nation to another. The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence.

The following countries are all members of the Hague Abduction Convention:








The Bahamas




Bosnia and Herzegovina



Burkina Faso



China (Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions only)


Costa Rica



The Czech Republic

Denmark (except the Faroe Islands and Greenland)

Dominican Republic


El Salvador



















Macedonia (known as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in UN and other international bodies)








The Netherlands

New Zealand









Russian Federation

Saint Kitts and Nevis

San Marino






South Africa


Sri Lanka




Trinidad and Tobago




The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Bermuda)

The United States of America






The Convention states that all Contracting States, as well as any judicial and administrative bodies of those Contracting States, “shall act expeditiously in all proceedings seeking the return of a child”.  These institutions shall use the most expeditious procedures available to them, and the final decision must be made within six weeks from the date of commencement of the proceedings.  If the judicial or administrative authority concerned has not reached a decision within six weeks from the date of commencement of the proceedings, the applicant or the Central Authority of the requested State, shall have the right to request a statement of the reasons for the delay.


Central Authorities shall co-operate with each other and promote co-operation amongst the competent authorities in their respective States to secure the prompt return of children and to achieve the other objects of this Convention. In particular, either directly or through any intermediary, they shall take all appropriate measures to:

a)       discover the whereabouts of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained.

b)       prevent further harm to the child or prejudice to interested parties by taking or causing to be taken provisional measures.

c)       secure the voluntary return of the child or to bring about an amicable resolution of the issue .

d)      initiate or facilitate the institution of judicial or administrative proceedings with a view to obtaining the return of the child and, in a proper case, to make arrangements for organizing or securing the effective exercise of rights of access.

e)       where the circumstances so require, to provide or facilitate the provision of legal aid and advice, including the participation of legal counsel and advisers.

f)        provide such administrative arrangements as may be necessary and appropriate to secure the safe return of the child.

g)       keep other each other informed with respect to the operation of this Convention and, as far as possible, to eliminate any obstacles to its application.

h)      ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in other Contracting States.




The principal object of the Convention, aside from protecting rights of access, is to protect children, under 16 years of age, from the harmful effects of cross-border abductions (and wrongful retentions) by providing a procedure designed to bring about the prompt return of such children to the State of their habitual residence. The principle of prompt return also serves as a deterrent to abductions and wrongful removals. The return order is designed to restore the status quo which existed before the wrongful removal or protection, and to deprive the wrongful parent of any advantage that might otherwise be gained by the abduction.


The Convention defines the removal or retention of a child is “wrongful” whenever:

a)       it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or alone, under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention.

b)       at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention.


The Convention limits the defence used against the return of a wrongfully removed or retained child to the following reasons:

a) The Petitioner was not “actually exercising custody rights at the time of the removal or retention”

b) The Petitioner “had consented to or acquiesced in the removal or retention”

c) More than one year has passed from the time of wrongful removal or retention until the date of the commencement of judicial or administrative proceedings.

d) The child is old enough and has a sufficient degree of maturity to knowingly object to being returned to the Petitioner and that it is appropriate to heed that objection.

e) By clear and convincing evidence, that “there is grave risk that the child’s return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation,”

f) By clear and convincing evidence, that return of the child would subject the child to violation of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.


A return order is not a custody determination. It is simply an order that the child be returned to the jurisdiction which is most appropriate to determine custody and access. It is clearly stated that a return decision is not a decision on the merits of any custody issue. It is this which justifies the requirement that the return order be made “forthwith”, and that a court dealing with an abduction case is not permitted to decide on “the merits of rights of custody”.


The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is bringing hope to those who face the tragedy of experiencing such an abduction.  The common ground on which the members of the Convention operate has swiftly brought home thousands of children, whom may have never been located and brought home without it.

The Hague Convention speaks volumes to the shared feeling of protecting young children across the world from abduction.  Many countries have come together to speak in a unified voice against these crimes.  While there is still much to learn in regards to bettering the convention’s policies and procedures, the ground work that has already been laid is inspirational and encouraging, showing how humanity shares the desire to protect its children.  When we speak in an unified voice against abduction, we are heard around the world, and from this, a true difference is being made.


  1. I can tell you from experience that the Hague does NOT work and is not worth the paper it’s written on! Money and citizenship speak much louder. I went to Jerusalem, Israel from San Antonio, Texas shortly before my 7th birthday back in 2001 to see my father. He decided I was to live in Israel now and didn’t send me back to Texas. My mother filed the Hague stating I had lived in Texas since birth so it was my habitual résidence. My father,a doctor who paid 95% of my expenses, argued back he should have sole custody for that reason and because he was a Israeli Citizen. My mother,an African-American, who had significantly less wealth was blocked at every turn and after 2 years had to give up. If a parent expect the Hague to save their child they will likely never see him or her again!

    • @Bronte aka J.A Perez-Murkowski , PLEASE contact your left behind and grief struck mother! Here’s the cellphone number and e-mail address. 701-610-3382 and You were and STILL ARE very much loved! Your mother and big brothers and sister miss you EVERY DAY!!!! WE LOVE THE SHIT OUT OF YOU,BABY GIRL!!!! Regardless of what your daddy told you,the lies about you living in the ghetto and getting beaten all the time in order to turn you against your Black mother,and what happened in the past you are very much CHERISHED by your TRUE family. You NEVER lived in a violent gang filled ghetto here in the United States and was very rarely spanked. These are straight up LIES he told you to manipulate you into wanting to stay with him. Believe it or not you were NOT sent to Israel willingly by your mother. You were STOLEN during an overnight visitation right in the city of San Antonio Texas where you were being raised. If your mother knew ahead of time what was going to go down you would have NEVER seen your daddy that time or any other time! You’ve been in Israel for 15 years. You’re a grown woman. You might not eveh speak English anymore. You probably accept his lies as the Gospel Truth. So much time has passed and so much needs to be worked out via true communications between you and us ,your mother and older half siblings(as your daddy called your mother’s other children). You’ve heard his story repeatedly for over a decade. Now we want to tell you our story. It distresses our mother very much that you’re a grown woman now yet have no interest in coming back to the United States. When you were young your daddy would send random pictures to your mother with mocking quotes like, “She sure looks happy without you as her mother!” and “This dark haired beauty will NEVER know you!” He tormented her. I am your second eldest brother btw 7 1/2 years older. You’re a citizen and can live in Israel for the rest of you choose but we also want you to realize and understand your ROOTS are in the United States where you was born,lived for 6 years speaking only English,and was spoilt rotten. I could show you so many pictures of yourself as a little girl in Texas, celebrating your birthday with parties and smiling contentedly with us your siblings. So much evidence exists to PROVE you were happy and ADORED living in Texas with your mother and siblings but almost NONE to prove you were beaten and intentionally made sick as your daddy claimed. You had Asthma,Epilepsy,and a very weak immune system that often landed you in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. No way you were abused intentionally because your mother had gone Bankrupt twice to pay for your medical bills! I really wish you would just contact us and let’s hash it out to gain closure. Before I go your mother would like to say something.

      Hopefully our words aren’t deleted before you read them baby sister.

      *”No-No(your old nickname), this your mother. Do you remember me? Your Mommy regrets ever letting that man anywhere near you so much. There hasn’t been a day that goes by I don’t think about you. You’re my little gray eyed baby and I would still UNHESITATINGLY give my life for yours’ even nearly 21 years after your birth. I’m your mother and ONLY I can love you like that. Your daddy cannot and will not do that for you. I have made many mistakes concerning you and this situation eventually washing my hands of you in frustration when you refused to come back to the US. I couldn’t understand why you hated me so much. I came to realize your daddy gave you things I could not as a single high school educated mother of 4 children. I accept that now. Now I just want to see your face and hear your voice and have you understand that the situation didn’t play out as you were told. You are one of the four loves of my life,Beloved. You are my youngest child but definitely not least child. Your Mommy will be waiting on you until the end of time. Go home soon…

      We loved you 1st and most! Contact us very soon and let’s start healing together.

      *To the owner of this site: sorry to ramble but this is where the first authentic internet activity from my family’s long abducted loved one has been found. We know of no other way to possibly reach her. This is the best we can do

  2. Hague does not work. My two children(aged 11&9) were abducted back to Finland in December 2003 and despite his alcoholism and violent tendencies Finland refused to return them to me. Estonia his native country and also a Hague participant declared my children citizens without consulting me allowing him Sole Custody and charging with Felony Kidnapping for leaving Finland with them in January 2003. My husband KICKED ME AND THE CHILDREN OUT OF THE MARITAL HOME iN FINLAND in a middle of a night blizzard, yet my allegations with sound evidence were treated as the rantings of a scorned woman. He was right and I was wrong simply because I am a US Citizen. To date I have never heard from my children again. Hague looks good on paper, but in real life is useless. If it worked as it should my children should have been back home safe with Mommy within 6 months at most. Instead their supposed homeland failed them and abandoned them to a unbalanced psycho.

  3. If one waits on Hague to save their child they will likely NEVER see him or her again! Ask me. I know from personal experience of abducted child. My younger sister and myself were illegally retained in Germany and later taken to Ukraine in 1999 ages 5 and 7 after our African-American mother sent us for court ordered summer visitation. Parents were never married,father was not on our Birth Certificates,and we were soley US Citizens despite being born in Germany. Not to mention our father drank like a fish and was someone a wise person didn’t leave even their dog with. In Ukraine our father periodically placed us at orphanage. My mother was awarded SOLE CUSTODY in both America and Germany yet was not allowed to remove us from orphanage. Finally in 2005 she came to our school in Kharkov,attracted our attention,and fled with us to Kiev where we flew to back to America on 72 hour Emergency Passports from the US Embassy. Hague did nothing to aid in this process and if not for my mother’s bravery we’d still be in Ukraine trapped by the civil war.

  4. What NOT to do if embroiled in an international custody case:

    1.Assume that just being American makes you automatically correct and attempt to completely disregard the authority of the country your children are in. I made this mistake listening to my American wife when we were trying to resolve a matter involving our children. Remember your child is also a citizen of that country as well. A foreign court had jurisdiction over our dual citizen children and a valid non-US Custody order was already being enforced. We just did not like what it said. Just because you do not like a court decree does not mean it is worthless.

    2.Hire some vigilante group to go in guns blazing to forcefully remove your children from their country of current residence. Again I made this mistake and if anything the situation was made at least 10 times worse. A popular organization is American Association For Lost Children (AAFLC) which is the one I hired. After a rather barbaric removal of my children from their school led to well over 100 militysa (Americans call them police) launching a search in four provinces to locate and recover them. Extrajudicial action did nothing except make us appear exactly as the immature irresponsible reckless unfit parents were already being demonized as.Be an adult. Be patient. Do things the legal way working through the proper channels.

    3.Burn all bridges and ties to those currently caring for your children. Since I and my wife caused so many problems for my family and traumatized our children with the failed removal mission, there has been little to no communication for 14 years. The now adult children still refuse to have anything to do with us. Remember that your child is well bonded to whomever you are trying to win them back from and most likely will not appreciate anything you do against their current caregiver (s).

    • Now you have me curious…. do tell what exactly qualifies as a “rather barbaric removal” and makes you disparge an entire professional service(child recovery) as dangerous? After all you hired this organization to retrieve your children(if you aren’t just making this all up as some creepy troll that is!),because for some strange reason neither you or your wife had possesion,and then you say that they did wrong,broke laws, and you were glad when the people who put their necks on the line to assist you were arrested causing your child to be returned to the people who was retaining them! What sense does that make? Are you confused are something? Did you ever even have abducted children abroad?

  5. Americans have a lot of nerve to complain! No one wants to admit that the United States is the WORST country that abuse and ignore the rights of non-citizen fathers , because American mothers who illegally abduct their dual citizen children to the United States from abroad are never forced to return their children to the fathers or punished. It does matter the race and skin of a woman, but a wise man MUST NEVER allow the American mother of his children to get on a plane with his children to the United States or he will NEVER SEE their children again!

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