International Child Custody Disputes
The United States is a party to the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention creates a mechanism for seeking the return of wrongfully removed or wrongfully retained children from the nation to which they were taken to the nation from which they were wrongfully taken. Wrongful removal or retention of children exists when it is in breach of the rights of custody of another under the law of the state in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention and those rights of custody were actually exercised or would have been exercised but for the removal or retention.
When a child has been removed from the jurisdiction in which he was habitually resident and in violation of a parent’s or legal custodian’s legal rights, even if removed by the other parent, the Hague Convention provides for civil remedies relating to the return of the child to the nation of his habitual residence. It is important to note that the Hague Convention is not a criminal treaty, and it does not provide for extradition of the wrongdoing actor; its focus is on the use of civil process to obtain return of the child.
Attorney Wendy Hickey is one of the leading authorities in Massachusetts on international child abduction cases.