If your children have been abducted unlawfully from the U.S. to another country that has signed the Hague Convention, you file two originals of an Application for each child with the State Department or the central authority of the other country. Here are the instructions. Be sure to sign and date the applications.
Fax your completed Hague application to CA/OCS/CI, fax number 202-736-9133. Send originals and supporting documents by mail, express mail, or courier service to:
Department of State
Office of Children’s Issues, SA-29
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
The State Department will then transmit the Application to the central authority of the country where the child is believed to be. The central authority of that country is to take all appropriate measures to obtain the voluntary return of the child.
The courts and administrative agencies are required to act expeditiously in proceedings for return of the child.
The One Year Rule
- If it has been less than one year since the abduction, the authority shall order the child returned forthwith.
- If it has been more than one year, the authority shall order the child returned, unless it is demonstrated that the child is now settled in the new environment.
Therefore, file your action within one year to eliminate the second option. You must file a lawsuit action within the year, not just your application. In retention cases, the year starts when the child is unlawfully detained. So if you gave your spouse permission to take the children to visit her parents in Spain for a month, and she does not return, the year starts at the end of the month.
Next: Defenses to Returning the Children