International Child Abduction is when a parent (who does not have the legal right to do so) removes the child to another country without an applicable defense. The Hague Convention was created to provide children with protection against the negative effects of abducting a child across international borders. It aims to facilitate the quick return of children to the country of habitual residence, not to petition custody of the child. Therefore, if you do not have a prior custody order granting you custody, you won't be able to use The Hague Convention to make changes to custody.
About 93 countries have already implemented the Hague Convention such as Australia, France, Luxembourg, Spain, UK, Switzerland, and Spain. The U.S. officially became a member country on July 1, 1988.
The Convention will only apply to abductions that occurred after the country has joined the treaty. If your child was abducted prior to the country joining, The Hague Convention won't help you. The complete list countries that are members of the convention can be obtained from website of the HCCH.
The Hague Convention cannot be applied to all international parental child abduction cases. For you to be able to appeal for the return of a child using the provisions of the Convention, you must be able to prove that:
The retention or removal of a child is deemed to be wrongful if:
According to The Hague Convention, a country may refuse the return of an abducted child if one of the following conditions are met:
Submission of a Hague application must be completed immediately after the abduction occurs or after the wrongful retention has occurred or it is not deemed to be timely. If you allow more than a year to pass before you decide to submit a Hague application, the return of your child may become much more difficult and is likely impact the outcome of your case.
The court may still allow the return of the child if it deems it to be appropriate even if the child has already adjusted to his/her new environment and the one-year limit has already been exceeded.
Note: Possession of a custody order before submitting an application is not required.