Non-Hague Convention child abduction attorney

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Child abduction in which a noncustodial parent takes or wrongfully retains a child in a different country, especially a non-Hague Convention signatory country, can be an overwhelming experience for the custodial parent. Parents experience fear, stress, frustration, and a number of other feelings. Most of all, they want to know how and when their child can be returned to them. Working with a Non-Hague Convention child abduction attorney can be critical to making that happen.

We’ve been involved with many non-Hague Convention child abduction cases at Schaffer Family Law, Ltd. In each case, we’ve sought out the most effective approach for reuniting our clients with their children. We understand the unique challenges that these situations pose and are prepared to overcome them. However, we also recognize how important it is that we remain sensitive to the difficult circumstances our clients are facing.

Understanding International Child Abduction

If a parent fails to return a child to the other parent according to court orders, this could be a case of child abduction. When this happens within the same state or even within the country, there is often a straightforward process to seek a resolution to the case. However, when these cases occur across international lines, the process of resolving the situation can become much more complicated.

A parent could effectively kidnap a child by taking them to another country without the permission of the court or the custodial parent. However, this is not the only way an international abduction could occur. In many cases, these types of abductions occur when the parent has initial permission to take the child to another country but fails to return the child home according to custody orders. This is known as wrongful retention.

If an abduction like this occurs in the United States, it is usually resolved through the involvement of the courts and the police. However, when it occurs on an international level, two different countries’ courts and police may be involved, and they are not necessarily required to adhere to the law in the other nation. This can create a number of different challenges in the process of resolving the situation.

The Hague Convention

One of the methods for addressing the challenges involved in international abductions is the Hague Convention. This treaty provides guidelines for how signatory nations will address these situations. It was intended to encourage the child to swiftly return to their home country.

Each signatory nation has a Central Authority, which parents and governments can contact about child abduction cases. The authority attempts to identify the location of abducted children, encourage a resolution, and enable the child to return if this is deemed the correct solution.

The immigration status and nationality of the parents do not have an impact on the decision to return a child to their habitual country of residence. In addition, cases involving children over the age of 15 are not considered to fall under the Hague Convention.

However, these rules can only be invoked in cases where a child has been taken from a signatory nation to another signatory nation, and there are many abductions that don’t fall into this category.

What Happens When a Country Hasn’t Signed the Hague Convention?

When the country that a child has been abducted to hasn’t signed the Hague Convention, there are a number of different ways the situation may be resolved, depending on the country. In some cases, there may be other agreements in place between the country and the United States, which could describe the process that will need to be followed to seek a resolution.

In many other cases, though, it’s possible that there isn’t an agreement, common law, or anything else to define how the situation should be addressed. These cases can be especially complex and difficult to navigate.

The most important thing to do in the case of a non-Hague Convention child abduction is to find the right attorney to represent you. It’s imperative that you have someone on your side who can examine the situation and identify what possible legal recourse you have to address the problem. The right lawyer will be crucial to reuniting you with your child.

What Are Some Alternatives to the Hague Convention?

Even if both parents live in a signatory country, the Hague Convention might not be the ideal option for your situation. Other laws might be better applied to your case, including:

The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

If both parents reside in the United States, the UCCJEA can be instrumental in deciding which state has jurisdiction over a parental rights dispute. In these types of cases, if a child has been living in one state with the primary residential parent for at least six months, that state is generally given jurisdiction over the case. If a child has a significant connection with one state but has not lived there for at least six months, that state might be considered as well.

Once the state of jurisdiction is established, another state cannot modify a parental rights agreement for that child. For example, if jurisdiction is held in Illinois, the agreement cannot be modified in another state except in unique circumstances. Using things like the UCCJEA’s Expedited Enforcement of Child-Custody Determination can provide similar or even better results in a faster time frame in some situations.

Registration and Enforcement of a Foreign Custody Decree

The UCCJEA also includes information to address the registration and enforcement of foreign custody decrees. If the decree mostly agrees with the standards of the UCCJEA, the state court is expected to treat the foreign court that registered the decree like a US state court. However, a court is not required to follow this provision if the country in which the decree was created violates human rights through their child custody law.

Although Schaffer Law Firm, Ltd., is based in Illinois, we can assist in Hague Convention cases in federal courts across the United States. These services are uncommon, as attorneys must usually be certified to practice law in the state in which they appear. However, due to the detailed nature of international custody disputes, our significant experience in this area of law allows us to practice these cases in multiple states, or “pro hac vice.”

What Your Non-Hague Convention Child Abduction Attorney Will Do

Ultimately, it’s the job of an attorney to represent their clients in the legal process and to pursue their interests. However, the process of doing so properly is often the culmination of your lawyer performing a number of other critical functions and roles.


A critical component of a non-Hague Convention child abduction case is researching the situation. We will look closely at the custody agreement in place, what happened, and what laws, treaties, or agreements are in place with the foreign country involved in the case. The latter of these issues will be especially critical to resolving your situation.

Our experience in addressing child abduction cases can be especially helpful when examining and considering the legal options that may be available to you. We can identify the types of approaches that have been effective in the past and determine whether or not they may be appropriate, given the facts of your case. Although each case is unique, there are some important factors that we can often identify based on our experience.

Strategy and Advice

There are often at least a few different approaches you could take to address the situation and reunite you with your child. It’s important, then, to be strategic in how you can go about seeking to resolve the issue. Our experience allows us to understand what approaches are often successful. Therefore, the right advice can be critical to ensuring that the ideal strategy is implemented from the start.

It’s important, though, that you understand and are comfortable with the actions that your representation is taking on your behalf. That’s why one of the critical functions of your attorney is to explain the options available to you, as well as give you an informed opinion on the risks involved with any particular strategy. This kind of advice is crucial to international abduction cases.


No matter what the appropriate strategy is for your case, it’s likely to involve a significant amount of paperwork, including petitions to the court. It’s important that this paperwork be done properly, or it could lead to unnecessary delays and other issues. With the help of a lawyer, you can be sure that these steps are being taken appropriately.


Your lawyer speaks and acts on your behalf throughout the legal process. This can take place in a few different ways. One is filing and submitting the necessary paperwork on your behalf. Your attorney can also represent you in any hearings or interactions with the courts and Judges involved.

It’s important to have proper representation for several different reasons. One is the objectivity of your lawyer. While we are dedicated to seeking the return of your child, only a parent can feel the true emotional weight and burden of the situation. This means that we can keep a clear head, which is critical for making the right decisions with something as technical as the law.

Your attorney should understand the law as it is written and as it unfolds in practice as courts and Judges make decisions. It’s important that you have someone on your side who understands what Judges would like to hear and shows them proper respect. Our experience is crucial to providing adequate representation in practice, not just in theory.

What to Look for When Choosing a Non-Hague Convention Child Abduction Attorney

International child abduction is a serious issue. For most parents involved, nothing is more important to them than their child, and their attorney is their strongest hope in seeing their child returned. This makes the decision of who to hire as an attorney critically important and, possibly, a difference-maker in each case. Finding the right attorney is something of vital importance to these parents, and there are several things to consider when deciding between your options.


For a legal issue as complex as a non-Hague Convention child abduction, it’s absolutely critical you work with someone who has experience with the issue. This is a niche area of the law, and it is immensely challenging to understand, even for the most talented lawyers who are unfamiliar with it. There is a significant amount of nuance involved, which can only be learned from the experience of working with parents whose children have been abducted to other nations.

At Schaffer Family Law, Ltd., we’ve worked with many parents seeking to have their children safely returned from a wide variety of countries, some with firm agreements in place with the United States, and others on less secure terms. Our range of experience means we enter into these cases with a firm foundation to call on. Our current and future clients benefit significantly from the nearly four decades of experience we have in helping families.


When you hire a lawyer, they will be speaking on your behalf and offering critical advice. This means that it’s important for your lawyer to communicate well and in a manner that you’re comfortable with.

You should be certain that they can communicate your interests and desires well to the courts and Judges involved. Additionally, though, they should take the time to make sure you’re well-informed about the situation and understand what options are available to you.


One of the critical characteristics necessary for a lawyer in these situations is a strong ethical foundation. Too many lawyers resort to cheap tactics that are likely to frustrate a Judge and lower their opinion of the lawyer and your case.

We understand and believe in the importance of having integrity and an ethical approach to practicing law. Far too often, we’ve seen cases negatively impacted by lawyers without strong ethics. They’ve turned Judges and their clients against them with their poor choices. We believe that an ethical approach is of paramount importance to having your child returned safely.


An attorney’s reputation can be a valuable insight into their abilities, experience, and way of working. There are a few different places where you can seek out information about a lawyer’s reputation. One option is looking at agencies that attempt to rate lawyers’ abilities and success, such as Martindale-Hubbell ratings. Additionally, considering what a lawyer’s past clients, peers, or colleagues think of their work can also be valuable.

At Schaffer Family Law, Ltd., we take our reputation seriously. We believe that those we’ve worked with will attest to our dedication, integrity, and sensitivity to the challenges that each unique case poses. David N. Schaffer has also been recognized for the work that he’s done in the area of international child abductions, including having received an award of merit from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Serving Both Families and Family Law Attorneys

The Hague Convention can be extremely complicated and should often be considered as a last resort. Other options, like the UCCJEA, may be more effective in particular cases. Due to our experience with the convoluted Hague Convention, we can also assist other family lawyers who are struggling with a case involving international custody disputes.

These types of cases are serious and often require detailed knowledge of international custody law. One minor mistake or issue can cause long-lasting damage to the entire case. Schaffer Law Firm, Ltd., not only has experience with Hague Convention cases, but we also know when to use other pieces of legislation instead to expedite the process. We offer a wide range of support, from answering questions to direct assistance with your case.

Don’t Delay in Contacting Us for Help With a Non-Hague Convention Child Abduction

A non-Hague Convention child abduction can be devastating for a parent. It’s often a nerve-wracking situation that can be filled with uncertainty. The absence of Hague Convention procedures to rely on creates additional stress. Most importantly, though, the parents in these circumstances are concerned for the children’s well-being and want them returned as soon as possible.

Often, the most important thing a parent can do is ensure that they have the right legal representation on their side. With so much stress and uncertainty, knowing that you have a lawyer who is dedicated to helping reunite you with your child can be critical. An experienced, determined lawyer can give you the confidence that every legal option will be considered.

At Schaffer Family Law, Ltd., we strive to ensure that the parents we help are reunited with their children. We rely on a depth of experience in facing some of the most complicated child abductions, and we understand each avenue possible for remedying the issue. If you are faced with a child abduction to a non-Hague Convention signatory nation, contact us for the legal help you need during this trying time.

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