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For most people, the idea of child abduction conjures images of amber alerts, police hunts and high profile investigations.
I’m Andrew Feldstein, managing partner of Feldstein Family Law Group. In this video, I’ll describe what happens in the event that your child is abducted and taken to another jurisdiction. In the legal world, we call this international child abduction.
Hundreds of children in Canada are abducted each year by a parent, often against the backdrop of a divorce or custody battle. The abduction may take place just prior to the end of a relationship, or during an approved vacation, when the parent simply fails to return the child home.
Often, where one parent has a specific tie to another international jurisdiction, the other parent will also know exactly where the child has been taken to.
So, as a parent in this difficult situation – what do you do?
Among several agencies and organizations that may become involved in an abduction case, it is also important to immediately obtain not one, but two lawyers to ensure that your child is returned without delay.
You’re probably thinking “Two lawyers? What for?” The reason is simple – once a child is removed to another place, there are two legal jurisdictions involved: where the child ordinarily lives and to where the child has been taken.
If a child is abducted internationally, the Hague Convention will apply. This treaty facilitates the safe return of abducted children under the age of 16 and promotes cooperation between countries that are signatories. You should also be aware that there are countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention. In this case, it becomes more difficult to have your child returned to you.
In order for the Convention to apply, there must be a custodial parent whose rights were breached by the child’s removal from the jurisdiction. This is where lawyer number one steps in, to obtain an order declaring that the parent who is seeking the child’s return is indeed the child’s custodial parent.
In addition, in order for the child to be returned under the Hague Convention, it must be proven that the child must have been habitually resident in the contracting state from which he or she was removed. Under the Hague Convention, there is no exact definition of “habitual residence”. As such, each decision proceeds on a case-by-case consideration of the facts to arrive at an equitable decision. Most importantly, this determination will be made by a court in the jurisdiction to which the child was taken, creating a need for lawyer number two.
Not surprisingly, international abductions are stressful on the child and the parent who has custody. There are many lawyers involved. There may be police involved also. Nor are they simple or quick to resolve.
At Feldstein Family Law Group, our competent lawyers are qualified to handle all of your family law needs, including international child abduction. If your child has been abducted, or you fear that this could occur, contact Feldstein Family Law Group today to consult with a lawyer.
Thank you for taking the time to watch this video. Please visit our website for further information about family law and its various processes. See you next time!
For the Feldstein Family Law Group, I’m Andrew Feldstein.