International Child Abductions


Unfortunately, abductions of children internationally continue to be on the rise as children become too often the pawns of parents caught up in acrimonious divorce or custody disputes. In 2017, the Department of State assisted in the return of 230 children removed overseas, and of these cases 170 children were returned through the use of the Hague Convention.* Few attorneys are accustomed to applying the laws of the Hague Convention, which are very distinct from the laws that govern domestic relations and local custody and access disputes. At CLG, we have international lawyers who are true “Hague attorneys.”  We are committed to help parents assert their rights under the Hague Convention to help secure the safe and immediate return of their children.  We also have an established network of lawyers in multiple states and provinces in Canada to assist us in this mission.  If a parent has been accused of wrongfully abducting a child to another country, we can help this parent assert their rightful defense under the Hague Convention.

CLG Hague lawyers are often consulted by family lawyers on how to properly represent clients under the Hague Convention.  We are happy to lend our expertise to colleagues who need a hand in such important cases. With the rise of the divorce rate in America and the high incidence of child abductions worldwide, lawyers should be better versed in the workings of the Hague Convention and promote its application in their jurisdiction whenever possible. When advising acrimonious separated parents about mobility and travel rights where their children are concerned, our lawyers often include terms in their agreement which trigger the automatic application of the Hague Convention to their case in the event of a non-return. Most family law lawyers, and even some judges, tend to apply domestic family law principles to cases of abductions, and fail to give effect to the underlying goal of this important treaty.  It is critical to hire a lawyer with Hague experience, as this is a very different type of family proceeding.

If a child is wrongfully taken to a country that has not signed the treaty, one can anticipate tremendous difficulties recovering that child through the normal legal channels. Often, the abducting parent will commence a custody proceeding in the non-contracting country to change the original status quo, with allegations by affidavit justifying the change of jurisdiction. Other times, the parent left behind may seek an immediate local order, but then needs to have it transferred to the non-contracting country for enforcement. Good luck. Chances are that local courts in the non-contracting country will determine the matter through the usual “best interest of the child” analysis, which, with the passage of time caused by administrative delays and the credence unfortunately given to unfounded allegations by the abducting parent, will greatly increase the chances of a custody reversal.

Many countries are notorious for improperly applying the Hague Convention.  Our Hague lawyers know how to streamline a Hague case to expedite proceedings, and how to “educate” the judicial body of a foreign jurisdiction about Hague laws, if necessary.   For an up to date list of member countries, please consult an official government site such as

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*source: 2017 Annual ICAPRA Report, Department of State.