8 | Practice and Policy Implications
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192 The Hague Convention was originally intended to protect children from the harm of abduction, and to protect custodial parents from having the other parent unlawfully remove or retain a child in another country. In practice, the Convention is now often used against mothers who are the primary custodians of their children. In cases where women cross international borders with their children to escape abuse, they may be treated as potential criminals rather than as women fleeing from seriously dangerous situations in countries where many barriers to help may exist. Ultimately, this study sought to understand from various viewpoints the experiences of mothers who allege that they have been victims of domestic violence, who come to the United States with their children and then face Hague petitions in our courts. There are many implications of the findings for work on Hague Convention cases involving allegations of adult domestic violence. As stated in the appendixes , both our interview study and the published case review samples are limited in serious ways. But there are, nonetheless, clear implications of our findings that we have grouped according to each key finding of this study. 1. Mothers and children often experienced severe violence from the leftbehind fathers who filed Hague Convention petitions to have their children returned. The implications of this finding are several. Consistent with the recommendations of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (1999), children should remain in the custody of a non-abusive parent and not be returned to a petitioning parent if there is evidence of the use of coercive violence against the child or other parent. Best practice would include assessment of all Hague Convention cases for the presence of domestic violence and the delivery of this assessment information to the judges hearing these cases. us attorneys representing both respondent and 8 Practice and Policy Implications Practice and Policy Implications  |  193 petitioner parents should assess for the presence of domestic violence, paying particular attention to patterns of coercive control and emotional terrorizing in addition to the presence of physical violence. The Hague’s Permanent Bureau and the us Central Authority might also issue interpretive guidelines for judges to clarify when a child’s exposure to domestic violence should be considered a form of grave risk or an intolerable situation. Some preventive steps may also help parents prior to relocation abroad. These would include providing detailed information about the possible outcomes of Hague Convention petitions in cases of alleged domestic violence and resources available to overseas victims of domestic violence. Such information could also be incorporated into online information on international travel provided by the us Department of State. The State Department might also collaborate with other stakeholders to develop online information, particularly to correct a common misperception that us-citizen parents have the right to return their children to the United States without the permission of the other parent, and that they are not bound by the other country’s custody laws. 2. Mothers were unable to access helpful resources in the other country, so they left with their children to seek safety and support of family members in the United States. Parents responding to Hague petitions should be offered the same technical assistance as that offered to petitioning parents by the us Central Authority. In addition, us domestic violence crisis line staff and battered women’s advocates need to be provided with training on the Hague Convention and its implications for abused parents so that they may more quickly respond when a battered mother and her child reach out to them for help. Further, work is needed internationally to strengthen the basic set of legal and social service domestic violence resources available for us-citizen and other battered parents. Every overseas us citizen should be able to access basic domestic violence services (including emergency shelter and protection orders) regardless of her or his immigration status. us Embassies also need to expand their capacity to provide emergency assistance to battered parents and children attempting to flee from abusive situations. Happily, the Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center, located in Portland, Oregon, has undertaken an effort to help start educating embassy staff and others in overseas citizen organizations. 194  |  Chapter 8 3. us authorities and courts were not receptive to mothers’ safety concerns. One of the most troubling findings in our study was the short time that mothers and their legal representatives were given to develop a defense to the Hague petition once it was served. Attorneys need...


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Subject Headings

  • Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980).
  • Parental kidnapping.
  • Abused women.
  • Family violence.
  • Custody of children.
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