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International Parental Child Abduction

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Legal Information

Join the Hague Convention Attorney Network

The Department of State administers an all-volunteer network of attorneys called the Hague Convention Attorney Network.  The attorneys within the Hague Convention Attorney Network provide pro bono and reduced-fee legal representation to qualified low-income applicants in incoming Hague Convention return and access cases.  To join, you must be an active member in good standing of a State Bar in the United States, and you must be willing to offer your legal services pro bono and/or for a reduced fee for qualified individuals.  Prior Hague Convention experience is not required.  You and the applicant enter into a private attorney-client relationship on  mutually agreed terms.  You act as private counsel and not as an agent of the Department of State. 

Attorneys in other countries may be included on Attorney Lists maintained by the U.S. Embassy or consulate.  Click here information. 

  • For more information about the Hague Convention Attorney Network, click here
  • For an an enrollment form, click here

U.S. Department of State Hague Convention Attorney Network

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (“USCA”) for the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Convention”).  The Convention provides a civil mechanism for securing the prompt return of wrongfully removed and wrongfully retainedchildren to their countries of habitual residence.  It also aims to promote the enjoyment of access rights.   

The United States took a reservation allowed by Article 26 of the Convention whereby the U.S. government is not bound to pay for legal counsel or court proceedings except to the extent they are covered by our legal aid system.  However, under the authority granted by Article 7(f) of the Convention, the Department of State  strives to facilitate the institution of judicial proceedings.  This is where the Hague Convention Attorney Network - and YOU - come in!   

The Department of State administers the Hague Convention Attorney Network to assist qualified low-income parents in treaty-partner countries find attorneys to bring their Hague Convention cases in courts in the United States.  The all-volunteer network is the primary resource for developing attorney referral lists for Convention applicants who request pro bono or reduced fee legal assistance.  Applicants assess their eligibility based on income guidelines published by the Legal Services Corporation.

While attorneys provide legal services at no- or low cost, applicants may be responsible for litigation-related costs.  Attorney fees and expenses may be recovered under the Convention and under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (22 U.S.C. 9007(b)(3)). States may also have provisions for the recovery of attorney fees, if state remedies are pursued.

To keep pace with the caseload, the Hague Convention Attorney Network welcomes new members.  To join:

  • You must be wiling to provide pro bono and/or reduced fee legal services.  (You also may be included on full fee referral lists.) 
  • You must be an active member in good standing of a State Bar.  (You must not be the subject of any pending disciplinary proceedings.)
  • No prior Hague litigation experience is required.  Extensive information about the Hague Convention is available on our website (childabduction.state.gov), and mentor attorneys are available upon request.  
  • Family law background may be helpful but is not required.   In fact, many large law firms take Hague Convention cases through their pro bono programs and report great satisfaction with the work.  One reason is the opportunity to file Convention return cases in U.S. federal courts.
  • You must submit an enrollment form.

Questions about the Hague Convention Attorney Network can be sent to the legal assistance coordinator at HagueConventionAttorneyNetwork@state.gov

Hague Abduction Convention - Legal Representation Options and Procedures in the United States

Legal Assistance Request Forms and Income Eligibility Guidelines


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