Hague Convention and CustodyWhy would a California judge have a problem with allowing the mother to travel with her son to New York, – with the possibility of slipping off to Belarus – during a custody battle with a man she believes is not capable of caring for the child? The answer is simple: the judge is concerned about international child abduction, and that raises the issue of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. I’ve written about the subject of international child custody cases before. The Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law to provide for the prompt return of a child internationally abducted by a parent from one-member country to another. There are three essential elements to every Hague Convention case:
- The child must be under the age of 16 years of age;
- The wrongful removal must be a violation of the left behind parent’s “rights of custody;”
- The left behind parent’s rights of custody “were actually being exercised or would have been exercised but for the removal.”
The catch, of course, is that a child must be taken from a signatory country to another signatory country, and that is where understanding the Hague Convention comes in.According to the Convention, Belarus’s accession to the Convention is effective only in the relationship between Belarus and those contracting states that have declared their acceptance of the accession. The United States has not recognized Belarusian participation in the Convention.
Game, set, match?According to the New York Post, Azarenka’s attorney, told the California judge her client is more than willing to buy a plane ticket for McKeague and put him up in a hotel for the 2-week tournament.
“But for some reason the judge won’t defer to the Belarus court.”When cases involve international custody, and there is a risk that a child could possibly be abducted to a foreign country without treaty agreements with the United States, judges are extremely careful about allowing travel – even to the U.S. Open. The New York Post article is here.