Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.
(770) 676-1191
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International child abduction and the Hague Convention

Some Georgians share children with foreign parents. When there are disputes about child custody, sometimes parents will flee the U.S. with their children, abducting them internationally. While this might happen when one of the parents is foreign, some U.S. parents have also fled to other countries with their children in the past.

More than 90 countries have signed on to the Hague Convention, a treaty governing how cases involving international child abduction should be handled between the countries. A parent may file his or her Hague Convention petition in federal or state court. If a child under the age of 16 has been absent for less than a year, the treaty calls for the child's immediate return. If more than a year has elapsed, the return of the child is discretionary rather than mandatory.

Both of the countries involved must be signatories to the treaty. Some countries accord custody rights differently, sometimes giving mothers more rights to children than they do to fathers. Timeliness in filing Hague Convention petitions is very important. Courts do not automatically grant them and may conclude that the children are already adjusted to their new environment, denying the petition if the court thinks too much time has passed.

Relocation of children either out of state or overseas necessitates filing motions with the courts that have jurisdiction over the child custody case. A parent who wishes to relocate will have the burden of showing the court why the move is necessary and that it is in their child's best interests. Parents who need to move may want to get help from a family law attorney. If parents simply move with their children without the agreement of the other parent and in violation of the existing child custody orders, they may face criminal sanctions in addition to civil contempt.

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Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.
4799 Sugarloaf Pkwy
Building J
Lawrenceville, GA 30044

Phone: 770-676-1191
Fax: 770-963-2828
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