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Adult Domestic Violence in Cases of International Parental Child Abduction

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 11 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2005 Pages: 115-138
Sudha Shetty; Jeffrey L. Edleson
Date Published
January 2005
24 pages
This article discusses the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction ("the Convention") and its impact on battered mothers and their children who are seeking safety in the United States.
The Convention was completed in October 1980 and implemented by the U.S. Congress in 1988 through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act. The Convention establishes international law for handling cases in which children are abducted from one country to another. States that are parties to the Convention are expected to assist in the quick return of abducted children to their "habitual residence," where other issues such as custody can be resolved by local jurisdictions. The Convention contains exceptions that permit the best interests of the child to override the mandatory return of a child from one country to another. This article focuses on the "grave risk" defense that battered mothers have used when they have been charged with abducting their children from a habitual residence and taking them to another country. Article 13(b) of the Convention provides an exception to the return of a child to his/her habitual residence if "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." Trends in research, policy, and case law in the United States increase the likelihood that battered mothers will raise this article in seeking to retain custody of their children. Other defenses used by battered mothers in Convention hearings focus on violations of human rights, definitions of habitual residence, a child's level of maturity, and acquiescence by the left-behind parents. The U.S. Congress should amend the Convention's implementing legislation to include exposure to adult domestic violence as a valid form of grave risk and broaden definitions of "habitual residence" to include ones in which a child's well-being is ensured. 65 references