Wrongful removal of a child from the country is a cause of grave anxiety and concern. The Hague Convention is intended to restore a child to his or her country of "habitual" residence. The Convention entered force in 1983; the United States became a party in 1988. There are some eighty countries which are members of the Convention.
Participating countries are to recognize and enforce custody orders of other participating countries. However, this may be a difficult process. For example; the Convention does not apply where: the child in question is 16 or older; the child objects to the proposed return and has reached an age where he or she reasonably can articulate his or her wishes; the person seeking return has not consistently exercised his or her parenting rights; or the person seeking return of the child has not filed an action within one year of removal.
All these questions may be decided by the pertinent authorities of the country to which the child has been removed. As a result, orders entered here in the United States may not be honored by the other country. Therefore, it is best to put protections in place prior to the child's removal.
Such protections may include: the posting of a bond by the removing parent prior to removal; entry of orders by the country of removal to honor orders entered in this country prior to the removal of the child; having a third party hold the passport of the child; or placing the child's name on the Passport Watch List to be notified if a passport application has been made for the child.
Of course, these protections must be in place prior to the removal of a child. As soon as any concern arises, you should consult an attorney for assistance. Quick action likely will be necessary if you are concerned that your child will not be returned promptly. Another approach is to build such protections into your marital settlement agreement at the time of your divorce.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the removal of your child from the country, please feel free to contact me to secure your rights.