International Child Abduction & The Hague

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in International Child Custody on Friday, October 7, 2016.

A New Yorker is raising awareness to a growing issue of International Child Abduction. It happens when a child is wrongfully taken and held in another country. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.

According to Channel 10 news in New York, Corey McKeighan shares custody of his son with his mother who is from Russia. What was supposed to be a mother and son three week trip to her country, has McKeighan worried he will never get his son back.

McKeighan’s ex-wife agreed to return on September 16th. “The day before they were supposed to return, she had called me and said, ‘We’re not coming back and you’ll never see us again.'”

In a panic, McKeighan contacted the U.S. State Department, FBI, and congressional leaders. They are working with the foreign government to resolve this case that they say is international child abduction.

In Russia, it is difficult because Russia and the United States are not in a treaty relationship. However, Russia and the United States are signatories to the Hague Convention.

A U.S. State Department official says:

“We are aware of the reports regarding an international parental child abduction case. Due to privacy considerations, we decline to provide additional details.

I’ve written about the topic of custody before. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides remedies for a “left-behind” parent, like Mr. McKeighan, to obtain the wrongfully removed or retained child to the country of his habitual residence.

The Convention seeks to deter abducting parent by eliminating their primary motivation for doing so: to “deprive the abduction parent’s actions of any practical or juridical consequences.”

So, when a child under 16 who was habitually residing in one signatory country is wrongfully removed to, or retained in, another signatory country, the Hague Convention provides that the other country: “order the return of the child forthwith” and “shall not decide on the merits of rights of custody.”

The removal or the retention of a child is to be considered wrongful where:

a) it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or alone, under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention; and

b) at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention.

The news 10 article can be found here