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Office of International Child Abduction

and the Hague Convention

The law firm also represents clients whose children have been (abducted) or "Wrongfully Removed" by their spouses to another country that participates under the Hague Convention. Moreover, the firm represents clients who's children have been abducted to Middle East. Attorney John Hagopian is fluent in French, Italian, Spanish, Armenia, Arabic and English.

The Hague convention is a legal procedure designed to protect children internationally from "Wrongful Removal" of the children to another country or the "Wrongful Retention" of the children in another country without the consent of either one parent. The Hague Convention also establishes procedures for the children's "Prompt Return" to their "Habitual Residence" or to the country where the children were taken away from.

The Convention also provides visitation rights called "Right of Access" to both parents allowing them to visit their children. Many cases of international parental child abduction involve cases in which the child traveled to a foreign country with the approval of both parents but was later prevented from returning to the United States. While these cases are not abductions, but they are "wrongful retentions".

Sometimes there are no signs of marital problems, but the foreign parent, upon returning to his or her country of origin, decides not to return to the U.S. or to allow the child to do so. A person who has assimilated a second culture may find a return to his or her roots traumatic and may feel a pull to shift loyalties back to the original culture. A person's personality may change when he or she returns to the place where he or she grew up. The most difficult and frustrating element for most parents whose child has been abducted abroad is that U.S. laws and court orders are not usually recognized in the foreign country and therefore are not directly enforceable abroad. Each sovereign country has jurisdiction within its own territory and over persons present within its borders, and no country can force another to decide cases or enforce laws within its confines in a particular way.

Currently there are 23 nations that participate in the “Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” and its policy is to deter international child abduction. Between 1976 and 1980, the United States was a major force in preparing and negotiating the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. In the United States, federal legislation, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (P.L. 100-300), was enacted to implement the Convention in this country.

To obtain the benefits of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the parent must file an Application with the US State Department within one year of the (abduction) or wrongful removal or wrongful retention. The parent must contact "The Office of Children's Issues at the US State Department" to start the Application Process under the Hague Convention. The telephone number of the "The Office of Children's Issues is (202) 736-7000 and the internet address is http://travel.state.gov. To obtain legal counsel, you may contact this law firm at (201) 569-6662. The initial preliminary office conference is free.