There are reports in the news today about the end of a long-running custody battle in the US arising from abduction proceedings under the Hague Convention.
The proceedings have, according to the reports, been ongoing for almost 10 years, and finally ended this week when the child in question turned 16 and so was no longer covered by the international rules governing international child abduction, The Hague Convention.
The case centred on whether the child should be returned from the US to Chile after being removed from Chile by the mother without his father's consent in 2003. Some of the reports focus on whether it would have been fair for the child to be returned to Chile, despite it being his wish to remain in the US.
What many people do not realise is that the Hague Convention is not intended to address the long-term arrangements for a child, or assess where and with whom the child should live in the long term, but rather, to decide which country should make those enquires and a final decision. It is not uncommon for there to be Hague Convention proceedings in one country, following which a child is returned to the country in which they used to live, where a new round of litigation follows to decide in which country and with which parent the child should live moving forwards. A Return Order under the Hague Convention does not necessarily mean that the child will have to stay in the country to which they are returned forever. As a result, lawyers in both countries often work together on both aspects of the litigation to protect the interests of their client and the child interests in both jurisdictions.
Any movement of a child across an international boundary, even if for a holiday, can have serious legal consequences if not done lawfully, and families with international links are always well advised to gain an understanding of the legal position at an early stage, to avoid problems in the future.
Here at Pannone, we have specialists in international children cases and child abduction who are always happy to help.