The Hague Abduction Convention

The Hague Abduction Convention helps address custody cases fought over international lines

The Hague Abduction Convention helps address custody cases fought over international lines


Formally titled the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (shorthandedly referred to by family law attorneys as “the Hague Abduction Convention” or just “the Hague Convention” when discussing international custody), the Hague Abduction Convention is an international treaty between a number of nations to address the problem of international child abductions. More particularly, it attempts to resolve situations where one party (usually a parent) removes a child from a country where there is a custody order (we’ll call that “Country A”), and takes them to another county (usually where that parent is originally from, or where they intend to live – we’ll call that “Country B”). The Hague Abduction Convention provides rules by which Country B shall return the Country A, where custody/visitation disputes may then be heard.Currently there are approximately 85 countries that have signed onto the Hague Abduction Convention, including the United States and most of its allies (a list of the countries that have signed on to the Hague Abduction Convention is located here. Notably absent among major countries in signing is China, which has thus far declined to join, as well as nearly all of the Southeast Asian countries.

In the past two years, Iraq, Japan, and Zambia entered into the Convention, after long periods of resistance (the Hague Convention was established in 1980, and the U.S. signed on in 1988).  Japan’s refusal to join prominently made the international news in 2009, when an American traveled to Japan, seeking return of his children and alleging that his Japanese national ex-wife had wrongfully removed them from the U.S. (per a North Carolina issued custody order). Upon trying to retrieve his children in Japan, the American father was arrested by Japanese authorities. Although charges were eventually dropped again the American father, it underlined the problems when countries refuse to acknowledge/enforce the custody orders of another country.

International custody disputes are especially complex, and usually require the services of an  experienced family attorney.  To discuss your options in an international custody case, call us at (808) 593-2199 or e-mail us now – we’ll be happy to speak with you.