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International Parental Child Abduction

English

Abductions

Completing the Hague Abduction Convention Application

The Hague Abduction Convention (Convention) is an international treaty that provides a civil remedy to parents seeking the return of a child wrongfully removed or retained across international borders. The Convention also allows a party to file an application to secure rights of access to children when parents live in different countries. 

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Convention Application

Please speak to your attorney before completing your Hague application package. In most countries, only one application packet is needed per family. Some countries require translations of your application and supporting documents. Ask a country officer for more information about translations and other country specific requirements. 

There are two types of Convention cases:  return and access. While the application forms are similar for both types of cases, the outcome you are seeking is different. Check the box for “Return” if you are seeking the return of your child, or check the box for “Access” if you are seeking access to, or visitation with, your child. In order for you to file an application for the return of a child to the United State with the U.S. Central Authority, the United States must have been partnered with the country when your child was wrongfully removed or retained.

  • Sections I, II, III, and IV: Use these sections to provide basic information about the people involved with this case:  your child, yourself, and your child’s other parent (the alleged taking parent). If you are applying for more than one child, list the oldest child in Section I and each younger sibling in Section IV. 
  • Section V: Explain what was happening when your child was removed or retained. Provide detailed information about the events at the time of the removal or retention. Some important details you may include in this section include the date and place of the wrongful removal or retention, your legal relationship to the alleged taking parent at that time, and how you learned about your child’s abduction. If you need more space, you may attach more pages to your application.   
  • Section VI: This section is for you to describe the legal basis for invoking the Convention. Therefore, provide information about your child’s habitual residence, evidence of your custodial rights, and any other legal proceedings in progress.  

    • Habitual Residence: Provide details that you believe establish where the child's place of habitual residence was at the time of the removal or retention.
    • Basis of Applicant’s Custody Rights: Provide information and documentation establishing that you had rights of custody when your child was removed or retained. Such documents may include, but are not limited to, a court order, a state statute, or an affidavit of law.  
      • Court Order(s): If applicable, include any court order(s) regarding custody that existed beforeyour child’s removal or retention.
      • State Statute: Most states and the District of Columbia have statutes (laws) that establish who has rights of custody when there is no court order. You may be able to locate the state’s statute by searching online or asking an attorney for assistance.   
      • Affidavit of Law: You may be able to obtain from an attorney an affidavit explaining your rights of custody under your state’s law.
    • Other Civil Proceedings: If you are currently involved in any other civil cases, such as a divorce or custody hearing, provide details and consider explaining when, where, and why. 
  • Section VII: Consider providing information about how your child would safely return if the court orders your child to be returned, including details about how your child would travel, if anyone would travel with your child, and if so, who. 

If you are applying for access to your child, use this section to propose what type of access to your child. Please be thorough in your proposal as you consider issues such as what type of access you are seeking, how related expenses will be paid, when and where any visits will occur, and any other information you think is relevant. If you need more space you may attach additional pages to your application.

  • Section VIII: Provide information about anyone in the foreign country who may be able to help the Central Authority locate your child. Include names, and any contact information, such as that person’s address, telephone numbers, email addresses, and any other relevant information that may help locate yor child.
  • Section IX: Provide any other information that you think might be important to the application. 
  • Sign and Date: Don’t forget! You must sign and date the application in BLUE or BLACK ink.
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Privacy Act Waiver

The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, prohibits the disclosure of a record about an individual from a federal agency’s system of records without the written consent of the individual, unless the disclosure is within one of twelve statutory exceptions. You can use this form to give consent for the Department to share information with persons and organizations whom you authorize. You may list your attorney, a specific family member or friend, or any other individual under Section A if you wish to do so. Please note that if you check “Yes” for “Individual Members of Congress and Staff,” on the second page of this form, we will notify your congressional representatives that you have reported your child as abducted. If you wish to change your Privacy Act waiver, you may update it at any time by providing a new Privacy Act waiver. 

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Supporting Documents

In addition to completing Convention application along with a translation, if applicable, you will also need to provide the following additional documents, if applicable to your circumstances.

  • Evidence of Custodial Rights: Section VI of the Hague Application asks for evidence of your custodial rights as they existed when your child was taken. Include an original or certified copy of any court orders, civil documents, agreements, or other evidence of your custody rights.
    • Birth Certificate: Submit an original or certified copy of each child’s birth certificate. If your child was born in a country that does not issue birth certificates, please submit the family certificate instead. 

    • Marriage Certificate or Divorce Decree: Depending on your legal relationship with your child’s other parent when your child was wrongfully removed or retained, you may need to provide certain documents. 
      • Married: If you and the alleged taking parent were married when your child was abducted, submit an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate.

      • Separated: If you and the alleged taking parent were legally separated when your child was abducted, submit an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate and any related court orders or agreements.

      • Divorced: If you and the alleged taking parent were divorced when your child was abducted, submit an original or certified copy of your divorce decree.

      • Never Married: If you and the alleged taking parent were never married, and you are seeking the return of your child, you will need to provide evidence of your custodial rights as they existed at the time of wrongful removal or retention, such as a state statute, case law, or affidavit of law.

NOTEA complete application requires a number of legal documents. Some courts require original documents, and the foreign Central Authority will generally require you to submit original or certified copies of all legal documents in these circumstances. Please contact our office if you are unable to provide original or certified copies.

  • Recent color photographs of your child and the person alleged to have wrongfully removed or retained the child as these may help location efforts. Write the person’s name on the back of each photograph.
  • While not required, some parents provide copies of school records, medical records, law enforcement or social welfare reports, and records of extracurricular activities in support of the Convention application.    
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Translations

While the foreign Central Authority might accept your application in English, some countries require parents to provide the application and other materials in a local language. Speak with your country officer for more information about the translation requirements for the country where you child is located. 


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