Should your foreign-born ex-spouse take your children from their home in Colorado for a visit to another country and then fail to return them to you on time, you may be able to get help via the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Signed by the United States and 97 other nations back in 1980, this international treaty provides the mechanism by which children residing in one member country whose parent abducts them to another member country can be expeditiously returned to their country of “habitual residence.”
Per the Convention, each of the 98 member nations respects the custody laws of all other member nations. In addition, each pledged to assist parents obtain the return of their internationally abducted children.
Your first step in obtaining Hague Convention help in the U.S. is to apply to the Convention’s Central Authority for assistance. Be sure to include the following in your application:
- Full identification information regarding yourself, your ex-spouse and the children in his or her possession
- The birth date of each abducted child
- Your grounds for requesting assistance
- Whatever information you have as to your children’s present location
- Whatever information you have as to the person who has your children
As you might expect, the more information you can provide to the Convention’s Central Authority in the United States, the more likely it can help you get your children back. Therefore, be sure to include verified or certified copies of the documents attached to your application, including the following:
- Decree of divorce
- Order of custody
- Parenting plan
- Whatever additional documentation you have proving that you are the sole or joint custodial parent of your children
After the Central Authority goes through the process of verifying the information you provide, it will conduct its own investigation of your international abduction claims and will contact its counterpart in the country where your children currently are visiting. The two countries will then proceed to work together to make sure your children are returned to you as soon as possible.