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U. S. NATIONAL CENTRAL BUREAU of INTERPOL
THE USA TYRANNICAL LAWS MAKING DEBT A CRIMINAL MATTER
HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE CIVIL ASPECTS
OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION
The States signatory to the present Convention, Firmly convinced that the interests of children are of paramount importance in matters relating to their custody, Desiring to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State of their habitual residence, as well as to secure protection for rights of access,
Have resolved to conclude a Convention to this effect, and have agreed
upon the following provisions -
CHAPTER I - SCOPE OF THE CONVENTION
The objects of the present Convention are -
a. to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully
removed to or retained in any Contracting State; and
b. to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the
law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in other
Contracting States shall take all appropriate measures to secure
within their territories the implementation of the objects of the
Convention. For this purpose they shall use the most expeditious
The removal or the retention of a child is to be considered
wrongful where -
a. it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a
person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or
alone, under the law of the State in which the child was
habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention;
b. at the time of removal or retention those rights were
actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been
so exercised but for the removal or retention.
The rights of custody mentioned in sub-paragraph a above,
may arise in particular by operation of law or by reason of
a judicial or administrative decision, or by reason of an
agreement having legal effect under the law of that State.
The Convention shall apply to any child who was habitually
resident in a Contracting State immediately before any breach of
custody or access rights.
The Convention shall cease to apply when the child attains the
age of 16 years.
For the purposes of this Convention -
a. 'rights of custody' shall include rights relating to the
care of the person of the child and, in particular, the right to
determine the child's place of residence;
b. 'rights of access' shall include the right to take a
child for a limited period of time to a place other than the
child's habitual residence.
CHAPTER II - CENTRAL AUTHORITIES
A Contracting State shall designate a Central Authority to
discharge the duties which are imposed by the Convention upon
Federal States, States with more than one system of law or
States having autonomous territorial organizations shall be
free to appoint more than one Central Authority and to
specify the territorial extent of their powers. Where a
State has appointed more than one Central Authority,
it shall designate the Central Authority to which applications
may be addressed fortransmission to the appropriate
Central Authority within that State.
Central Authorities shall co-operate with each other and promote
co-operation amongst the competent authorities in their respective
States to secure the prompt return of children and to achieve the
other objects of this Convention.
In particular, either directly or through any intermediary, they
shall take all appropriate measures -
a. to discover the whereabouts of a child who has been
wrongfully removed or retained;
b. to prevent further harm to the child or prejudice to
interested parties by taking or causing to be taken provisional
c. to secure the voluntary return of the child or to bring
about an amicable resolution of the issues;
d. to exchange, where desirable, information relating to the
social background of the child;
e. to provide information of a general character as to the
law of their State in connection with the application of the
f. to initiate or facilitate the institution of judicial or
administrative proceedings with a view to obtaining the
return of the child and, in a proper case, to make
arrangements for organizing or securing the effective
exercise of rights of access;
g. where the circumstances so require, to provide or
facilitate the provision of legal aid and advice, including the
participation of legal counsel and advisers;
h. to provide such administrative arrangements as may be
necessary and appropriate to secure the safe return of the child;
i. to keep other each other informed with respect to the
operation of this Convention and, as far as possible, to
eliminate any obstacles to its application.
CHAPTER III - RETURN OF CHILDREN
Any person, institution or other body claiming that a child has
been removed or retained in breach of custody rights may apply
either to the Central Authority of the child's habitual residence
or to the Central Authority of any other Contracting State for
assistance in securing the return of the child.
The application shall contain -
a. information concerning the identity of the applicant, of
the child and of the person alleged to have removed or retained
b. where available, the date of birth of the child;
c. the grounds on which the applicant's claim for return of
the child is based;
d. all available information relating to the whereabouts of
the child and the identity of the person with whom the child is
presumed to be.
The application may be accompanied or supplemented by -
e. an authenticated copy of any relevant decision or
f. a certificate or an affidavit emanating from a Central
Authority, or other competent authority of the State of the
child's habitual residence, or from a qualified person,
concerning the relevant law of that State;
g. any other relevant document.
If the Central Authority which receives an application referred
to in Article 8 has reason to believe that the child is in
another Contracting State, it shall directly and without delay
transmit the application to the Central Authority of that
Contracting State and inform the requesting Central Authority,
or the applicant, as the case may be.
The Central Authority of the State where the child is shall take
or cause to be taken all appropriate measures in order to obtain
the voluntary return of the child.
The judicial or administrative authorities of Contracting States
shall act expeditiously in proceedings for the return of
If the judicial or administrative authority concerned has not
reached a decision within six weeks from the date of commencement
of the proceedings, the applicant or the Central Authority of the
requested State, on its own initiative or if asked by the Central
Authority of the requesting State, shall have the right to request the Central Authority of the requested State, that Authority shall
transmit the reply to the Central Authority of the requesting State,
or to the applicant, as the case may be.
Where a child has been wrongfully removed or retained in terms of
Article 3 and, at the date of the commencement of the proceedings
before the judicial or administrative authority of the Contracting
State where the child is, a period of less than one year has elapsed
from the date of the wrongful removal or retention, the authority
concerned shall order the return of the child forthwith.
The judicial or administrative authority, even where the
proceedings have been commenced after the expiration of the
period of one year referred to in the preceding paragraph, shall
also order the return of the child, unless it is demonstrated
that the child is now settled in its new environment.
Where the judicial or administrative authority in the requested
State has reason to believe that the child has been taken to
another State, it may stay the proceedings or dismiss the
application for the return of the child.
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding Article, the
judicial or administrative authority of the requested State is
not bound to order the return of the child if the person,
institution or other body which opposes its return establishes
a. the person, institution or other body having the care of
the person of the child was not actually exercising the custody
rights at the time of removal or retention, or had consented to
or subsequently acquiesced in the removal of retention; or
b. there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose
the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place
the child in an intolerable situation.
The judicial or administrative authority may also refuse
to order the return of the child if it finds that the child objects
to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity
at which it is appropriate to take account of its views.
In considering the circumstances referred to in this Article,
the judicial and administrative authorities shall take into account
the information relating to the social background of the child
provided by the Central Authority or other competent authority
of the child's habitual residence.
In ascertaining whether there has been a wrongful removal of
retention within the meaning of Article 3, the judicial or
administrative authorities of the requested State may take notice
directly of the law of, and of judicial or administrative
decisions, formally recognized or not in the State of the
habitual residence of the child, without recourse to the specific
procedures for the proof of that law or for the recognition of
foreign decisions which would otherwise be applicable.
The judicial or administrative authorities of a Contracting
State may, prior to the making of an order for the return
of the child, request that the applicant obtain from the
authorities of the State of the habitual residence of the
child a decision or other determination that the removal
or retention was wrongful within the meaning of Article 3
of the Convention, where such a decision or determination
may be obtained in that State. The Central Authorities of
the Contracting States shall so far as practicable assist
applicants to obtain such a decision or determination.
After receiving notice of a wrongful removal or retention of a
child in the sense of Article 3, the judicial or administrative
authorities of the Contracting State to which the child has been
removed or in which it has been retained shall not decide on the
merits of rights of custody until it has been determined that the
child is not to be returned under this Convention or unless an
application under the Convention is not lodged within a
reasonable time following receipt of the notice.
The sole fact that a decision relating to custody has been given
in or is entitled to recognition in the requested State shall not be
a ground for refusing to return a child under this Convention,
but the judicial or administrative authorities of the requested
State may take account of the reasons for that decision in
applying this Convention.
The provisions of this Chapter do not limit the power of a
judicial or administrative authority to order the return of the
child at any time.
A decision under this Convention concerning the return of the
child shall not be taken to be determination on the merits of any custody issue.
The return of the child under the provision of Article 12 may be
refused if this would not be permitted by the fundamental
principles of the requested State relating to the protection of
human rights and fundamental freedoms.
CHAPTER VI - RIGHTS OF ACCESS
An application to make arrangements for organizing or securing
the effective exercise of rights of access may be presented to
the Central Authorities of the Contracting States in the same way
as an application for the return of a child.
The Central Authorities are bound by the obligations of
co-operation which are set forth in Article 7 to promote the
peaceful enjoyment of access rights and the fulfillment of any
conditions to which the exercise of such rights may be subject.
The central Authorities shall take steps to remove, as far as possible,
all obstacles to the exercise of such rights. The Central Authorities,
either directly or through intermediaries, may initiate or assist in the
institution of proceedings with a view to organizing or protecting
these rights and securing respect for the conditions to which the
exercise of these rights may be subject.
No security, bond or deposit, however described, shall be
required to guarantee the payment of costs and expenses in the
judicial or administrative proceedings falling within the scope
of this Convention.
No legalization or similar formality may be required in the
context of this Convention.
Any application, communication or other document sent to the
Central Authority of the requested State shall be in the original
language, and shall be accompanied by a translation into the
official language or one of the official languages of the
requested State or, where that is not feasible, a translation
into French or English.
However, a Contracting State may, by making a reservation in
accordance with Article 42, object to the use of either French
or English, but not both, in any application, communication
or other document sent to its Central Authority.
Nationals of the Contracting States and persons who are
habitually resident within those States shall be entitled in
matters concerned with the application of this Convention to
legal aid and advice in any other Contracting State on the same
conditions as if they themselves were nationals of and habitually
resident in that State.
Each Central Authority shall bear its own costs in applying this
Central Authorities and other public services of Contracting
States shall not impose any charges in relation to applications
submitted under this Convention. In particular, they may not
require any payment from the applicant towards the costs and
expenses of the proceedings or, where applicable, those arising
from the participation of legal counsel or advisers. However,
they may require the payment of the expenses incurred or to be
incurred in implementing the return of the child.
However, a Contracting State may, by making a reservation in
accordance with Article 42, declare that it shall not be bound to
assume any costs referred to in the preceding paragraph resulting
from the participation of legal counsel or advisers or from court
proceedings, except insofar as those costs may be covered by its
system of legal aid and advice.
Upon ordering the return of a child or issuing an order
concerning rights of access under this Convention, the judicial
or administrative authorities may, where appropriate, direct the
person who removed or retained the child, or who prevented the
exercise of rights of access, to pay necessary expenses incurred
by or on behalf of the applicant, including travel expenses, any
costs incurred or payments made for locating the child, the costs of
legal representation of the applicant, and those of returning the child.
When it is manifest that the requirements of this Convention are
not fulfilled or that the application is otherwise not well
founded, a Central Authority is not bound to accept the application.
In that case, the Central Authority shall forthwith
inform the applicant or the Central Authority through which the
application was submitted, as the case may be, of its reasons.
A Central Authority may require that the application be
accompanied by a written authorization empowering it to act on
behalf of the applicant, or to designate a representative so to
This Convention shall not preclude any person, institution or
body who claims that there has been a breach of custody or
access rights within the meaning of Article 3 or 21 from
applying directly to the judicial or administrative authorities
of a Contracting State, whether or not under the provisions
of this Convention.
Any application submitted to the Central Authorities or directly
to the judicial or administrative authorities of a Contracting
State in accordance with the terms of this Convention, together
with documents and any other information appended thereto or
provided by a Central Authority, shall be admissible in the
courts or administrative authorities of the Contracting
In relation to a State which in matters of custody of children
has two or more systems of law applicable in different territorial
a. any reference to habitual residence in that State shall
be construed as referring to habitual residence in a territorial
unit of that State;
b. any reference to the law of the State of habitual
residence shall be construed as referring to the law of the
territorial unit in that State where the child habitually
In relation to a State which in matters of custody of children
has two or more systems of law applicable to different categories
of persons, any reference to the law of that State shall be construed
as referring to the legal system specified by the law of that State.
A State within which different territorial units have their own
rules of law in respect of custody of children shall not be bound
to apply this Convention where a State with a unified system of
law would not be bound to do so.
This Convention shall take priority in matters within its scope
over the Convention of 5 October 1961 concerning the powers of
authorities and the law applicable in respect of the protection
of minors, as between Parties to both Conventions. Otherwise the
present Convention shall not restrict the application of an
international instrument in force between the State of origin
and the State addressed or other law of the State addressed
for the purposes of obtaining the return of a child who has been
wrongfully removed or retained or of organizing access rights.
This Convention shall apply as between Contracting States
only to wrongful removals or retentions occurring after its
entry into force in those States.
Where a declaration has been made under Article 39 or 40, the
reference in the preceding paragraph to a Contracting
State shall be taken to refer to the territorial unit or
units in relation to which this Convention applies.
Nothing in this Convention shall prevent two or more Contracting
State, in order to limit the restrictions to which the return of
the child may be subject, from agreeing among themselves to
derogate from any provision of this Convention which may imply
such a restriction.
CHAPTER VI - FINAL CLAUSES
The Convention shall be open for signature by the States which
were Members of the Hague Conference on Private International
Law at the time of its Fourteenth Session.
It shall be ratified, accepted or approved and the instruments of
ratification, acceptance or approval shall be deposited with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Any other State may accede to the Convention. The instrument of
accession shall be deposited with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The Convention shall enter into force for a State acceding to it
on the first day of the third calendar month after the deposit of its
instrument of accession.
The accession will have effect only as regards the relations
between the acceding State and such Contracting States as will
have declared their acceptance of the accession. Such a
declaration will also have to be made by any Member State
ratifying, accepting or approving the Convention after an
accession. Such declaration shall be deposited at the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; this
Ministry shall forward, through diplomatic channels, a
certified copy to each of the Contracting States.
The Convention will enter into force as between the acceding
State and the State that has declared its acceptance of the
accession on the first day of the third calendar month after the
deposit of the declaration of acceptance.
Any State may, at the time of signature, ratification,
acceptance, approval or accession, declare that the Convention
shall extend to all the territories for the international
relations of which it is responsible, or to one or more of
them. Such a declaration shall take effect at the time the
Convention enters into force for that State.
Such declaration, as well as any subsequent extension, shall be
notified to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the
If a Contracting State has two or more territorial units in which
different systems of law are applicable in relation to matters
dealt with in this Convention, it may at the time of signature,
ratification, acceptance, approval or accession declare that this
Convention shall extend to all its territorial units or only to one
or more of them and may modify this declaration by submitting
another declaration at any time.
Any such declaration shall be notified to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and shall state expressly
the territorial units to which the Convention applies.
Where a Contracting State has a system of government under which
executive, judicial and legislative powers are distributed
between central and other authorities within that State, its
signature or ratification, acceptance or approval of, or
accession to this Convention, or its making of any declaration
in terms of Article 40 shall carry no implication as to the
internal distribution of powers within that State.
Any State may, not later than the time of ratification,
acceptance, approval or accession, or at the time of making a
declaration in terms of Article 39 or 40, make one or both of
the reservations provided for in Article 24 and Article 26,
third paragraph. No other reservations shall be permitted.
Any State may at any time withdraw a reservation it has made.
The withdrawal shall be notified to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The reservation shall cease to
have effect on the first day of the third calendar month after the
notification referred to in the preceding paragraph.
The Convention shall enter into force on the first day of the
third calendar month after the deposit of the third instrument
of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession referred to
in Articles 37 and 38.
Thereafter the Convention shall enter into force -
1. for each State ratifying, accepting, approving or
acceding to it subsequently, on the first day of the third
calendar month after the deposit of its instrument of
ratification, acceptance, approval or accession;
2. for any territory or territorial unit to which the
Convention has been extended in conformity with
Article 39 or 40, on the first day of the third calendar
month after the notification referred to in that Article.
The Convention shall remain in force for five years
from the date of its entry into force in accordance
with the first paragraph of Article 43 even for
States which subsequently have ratified, accepted,
approved it or acceded to it.
If there has been no denunciation, it shall be renewed tacitly
every five years.
Any denunciation shall be notified to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of the Kingdom of the netherlands at least six months
before the expiry of the five year period. It may be limited to
certain of the territories or territorial units to which the
The denunciation shall have effect only as regards the State
which has notified it. The Convention shall remain in force for
the other Contracting States.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the
Netherlands shall notify the States Members of the Conference,
and the States which have acceded in accordance with Article 38,
of the following -
1. the signatures and ratifications, acceptances and
approvals referred to in Article 37;
2. the accession referred to in Article 38;
3. the date on which the Convention enters into force in
accordance with Article 43;
4. the extensions referred to in Article 39;
5. the declarations referred to in Articles 38 and 40;
6. the reservations referred to in Article 24 and Article
26, third paragraph, and the withdrawals referred to in Article 42;
7. the denunciation referred to in Article 44.
In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorized
thereto, have signed this Convention.
Done at The Hague, on the 25th day of October, 1980, in the
English and French languages, both texts being equally authentic,
in a single copy which shall be deposited in the archives of the
Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and of which
a certified copy shall be sent, through diplomatic channels, to each
of the States Members of the Hague Conference on Private International
Law at the date of its Fourteenth Session.