International child abduction may occur when a child is brought into or retained in a foreign country without the agreement of all of the people who have custody or guardianship of the child. As a first step, it is important to find out whether or not the other country involved is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention is an international treaty signed by Canada and a large number of other countries to set procedures and legal tests in cases of international child abduction. In British Columbia, Hague Convention cases are heard by the Supreme Court, which has procedures in place to hear these cases as quickly as possible. The Hague Convention will apply in British Columbia if the other country involved has also signed the Hague Convention. Otherwise, the Hague Convention will not apply.
If the Hague Convention Does Not Apply
When the Hague Convention does not apply, the local laws apply instead. For example, if a child is brought into British Columbia from a country that has not signed the Hague Convention, and there is a dispute about whether or not the child should be returned to the other country, then the laws of British Columbia or Canada will generally apply to decide the matter. The situation is particularly complex when a child is removed from British Columbia to a country that has not signed the Hague Convention, because the laws of that country are likely to apply to the child and may be very different from the laws of British Columbia and Canada.
International child abduction cases can be harrowing. We carefully assess our client’s circumstances and provide advice about applying to the court for orders regarding the child. We represent our clients in court and when possible, try to reach an agreement between the parties about the return of the child.