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DuPage County International Child Abduction Attorney

DuPage County international child removal lawyer

Lawyer for Illinois Child Custody and Removal Matters Covered Under the Hague Convention

Child custody cases that cross state lines are complicated in their own right, but those that extend across international borders come with even more substantial complications. This is especially true when a parent removes a child to another country without the other parent's knowledge or consent. If your child has been abducted or removed to a foreign country, it is only natural that you would have concerns about their safety and your ability to see them again.

Fortunately, an international agreement known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction gives parents the ability to petition for the return of their children, and our Attorney Jessica Sendek can advise and represent you throughout this process. She brings more than 10 years of family law experience to her practice, including handling a wide variety of complex child custody issues. She will give you the personal attention you need as you pursue your child's safe return.

Terms of the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention, first established in 1983 and ratified by the United States in 1988, requires international cooperation in cases in which a child under the age of 16 has been wrongfully removed from his or her country of habitual residence to another country, thereby violating child custody rights granted by law in the country of habitual residence. For example, removal from a foreign country to the U.S. could violate a parent's rights to their child, and therefore, the parent would have grounds to take action under the terms of the Hague Convention.

In addition to the U.S., 100 other countries have ratified or acceded to the Hague Convention, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, most countries in the Americas and Europe, and several countries in Africa and Asia. If you believe that your child has been removed from their home country, you can take action to secure their return.

Petitioning For Your Child's Return

To initiate the process of reuniting with your child, you must submit an application to the Central Authority responsible for implementing the terms of the Hague Convention. In the United States, this Central Authority is the Office of International Judicial Assistance (OIJA) within the Department of Justice. With your application, you will need to include information regarding your identity, the identity of the person whom you allege has wrongfully removed your child, and your child's identity and date of birth. You will also need to describe the grounds for which you are seeking your child's return, and you may include a copy of a court-ordered child custody decision and other relevant documents to support your case.

It may also be necessary to demonstrate your child's country of habitual residence at the time of the removal. The Hague Convention does not provide a specific definition for "habitual residence," but information regarding the parent's intentions and the child's residence history and adjustment to his or her home and community will be considered in making a decision.

If the Central Authority in the country where the child is currently located determines that there are grounds for the child's return, it must take all appropriate measures to return the child to the country of habitual residence as soon as possible. The Central Authority cannot hold you, as the petitioning party, responsible for the costs related to locating the child and determining whether a return is warranted, and it may order the party who wrongfully removed the child to pay expenses related to the child's return, including for travel and legal representation.

The removing parent may attempt to make the case that the child should not be returned if there is evidence that the petitioning parent consented to the removal or was not exercising custody rights at the time, or if the return would put the child at grave risk of harm. A return may also be denied if the removal happened more than one year before the petition for return and the child has settled into his or her new environment. If the other parent is attempting to put forth one of these defenses, we can help you assert and support your own position to contest these claims.

Contact a Wheaton, IL International Child Custody Attorney

If your child has been taken away from their home country without your consent, it is important to act quickly. Contact us today at 630-358-9029 for a free consultation so we can help you determine your best course of action. We represent parents in Wheaton, Naperville, Winfield, West Chicago, Warrenville, Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Lisle, and throughout DuPage County, Will County, Cook County, and Kane County.

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