Recent Data on International Parental Abductions

What Is the Hague Abduction Convention?

In 1980, countries from around the world came together to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction—also known as the Hague Abduction Convention—a multilateral treaty between countries establishing uniform rules and procedures for dealing with international child custody issues.

In particular, the Hague Abduction Convention was established to combat the harms that children suffer in custody disputes involving parents from different countries where one parent decides to take and retain custody of their child in a way that exceeds the terms of an applicable custody order issued from another country’s court. Such conduct is commonly known as international parental abduction.

The harms of international parental abduction are apparent in the disruption it creates between the child and the other parent. When retaining custody of a child in excess of the terms of a custody agreement, it interferes with the parental rights of the other parent, as determined by the court that issued the order.

The Hague Abduction Convention was designed to simplify the task of locating children in international parental abduction cases and facilitate reuniting them with the other parent. Under the terms of the Convention, member countries must designate or establish a central authority that is responsible for receiving and administering international custody claims.

The designated central authority for Hague Abduction Convention claims primarily deals with two types of actions:

  • Applications to return a child who was taken by international parental abduction
  • Applications for coordinating or securing a parent’s rights for access

Recent Survey Data Regarding Hague Abduction Convention Claims

In 2015, a survey was conducted among the majority of Hague Abduction Convention countries regarding more than 2,000 return applications and approximately 382 access applications. The results of the study indicate that roughly 86% of applications concerned the return of a child to their home country—also known as their country of habitual residence. At the other end, only 14% of the applications were for access rights of a parent.

Compared to previous surveys, the 2015 data suggests a slight trend involving the increase of return applications and an accompanying decrease in access applications. However, the survey shows an overall reduction in Hague Abduction Convention applications between 2008 and 2015.

The 2015 survey data also shed light on what countries handled the most applications, ranking the following nations from busiest to least busy:

  • The United States: 597 applications
  • England and Wales: 578 applications
  • Germany: 457 applications
  • Mexico: 306 applications

The 2015 survey also illuminated particular details concerning international parental abduction cases, including data about abductors and abducted children.

Findings and Conclusions Drawn from the Data

According to the 2015 survey data on return applications, the vast majority of abductors were mothers, who comprised 73% of the abductors, while fathers constituted 24%. The remaining cases involved abductors who were grandparents or other relatives. Furthermore, the majority of abductors were the child’s primary or shared primary caregiver. Additionally, 70% of return applications involved a single child, with 53% of children being male children.

The 2015 survey broke down the outcomes of return applications as follows:

  • 28% Judicial Returns: 561 out of 2,002 return applications involved a judicial order for return, with or without consent of the parties.
  • 17% Voluntary Returns: 348 of return applications included a voluntary agreement for the child’s return.
  • 16% Other: 318 applications ended with an agreement between the parties for the child to remain in the requested state, closed due to the applicant’s inaction—such as failing to provide all required documents—, the child turning 16, or the abductor being arrested.
  • 14% Withdrawn: 283 applications involved the applicant withdrawing the application.
  • 6% Pending: 128 applications are considered pending outcomes.
  • 3% Access Agreed or Ordered: 57 applications ended in a court ordering access to the child, or the parties agreeing to child access.
  • 3% Rejection: 64 applications ended with the central authority rejecting applications for not being well-founded.

Discuss Your Case with an Attorney from Hanson Gorian Bradford & Hanich

If you are looking for an experienced family law attorney to consult about your case, you should contact Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to advise you on complicated issues of family law, including matters involving international child custody pursuant to the Hague Abduction Convention.

Please call Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich at (951) 687-6003 or contact us online for an initial consultation today.
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