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International child abduction and Texas custody cases

Child custody disputes are difficult for most parents, but when one parent takes a child from Texas and relocates to another country or fails to return the child from a foreign country following a visit, the situation can be devastating. In order to combat this type of problem, the U.S. along with many other countries has ratified a treaty known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The purpose of the treaty is to help return the child to his or her country of regular residence and to prevent the harm caused to children by international parental abduction. Participating countries also agree to respect the visitation and access rights afforded to parents in the member countries.

In order to be eligible to apply for a return under the convention, the parent must be able to show that he or she had custody rights and that the taking of the child or the keeping of the child in the foreign country was in violation of those rights. Each participating country has a central authority to assist with such cases, which provides assistance in locating the child and helping to ensure their safe return. All documents filed with the central authority are also admissible in U.S. courts. The child must also be younger than 16 years of age and the country in which he or she is located must have been participating in the treaty at the time of the taking.

Child custody cases can be difficult for all involved. When the two parents are from different countries, that fact does not erase the fundamental rights of parenting held by either. When one parent abducts a child to another country in violation of a custody order, the other parent may be able to apply for their return through the Hague convention.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "Important Features of the Hague Abduction Convention - Why the Hague Convention Matters", November 18, 2014

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