When divorced parents in California do not agree on a child custody arrangement, a lot of arguments and legal disputes can arise. A terrible thing that can happen is when a parent disobeys a child custody order and takes the child to a foreign country without the other parent's consent.
Parents who have children that have been abducted by their other parent face enormous obstacles when trying to bring their children back to the United States. In 1988, the United States joined several other countries in an agreement aimed at expediting the return of children who have been illegally moved to foreign countries. So far, more than 90 countries have adopted the Hague Convention.
If a child under the age of 16 is moved to a Hague Convention country by one of their parents in violation of a child custody order, the child must be returned immediately as long as action is taken within one year of the move. After one year has passed since the child moved, the return of the child to their country of origin is discretionary. Some countries do not recognize the equal rights of two parents with joint physical custody and favor the mother if a decision to return the child is discretionary.
Filing a Hague Convention petition in a timely manner is very important, as foreign courts could deny a parent's petition if they believe the child has settled in the new country. A parent who is worried that their child's other parent plans to abduct their child may want to speak to an attorney about impounding their child's passport. An attorney may also help a parent to file a Hague Convention petition and seek the return of an abducted child.