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1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction: A Resource for Judges

Video Tutorials

Special Topic Webpage Overview
Judge Jeremy Fogel (former director of the Federal Judicial Center) and Judge James Garbolino discuss the resources available on this Special Topic Webpage and briefly outline the elements of a Hague Convention case.

Your First Hague Case
Judge James Garbolino, Judge Catherine Serrette, and Judge Peter Messitte cover the basic elements of a Hague Convention case, including the specific requirements of the Convention, the most common defenses and their applicable standards of proof, the Central Authority, and available sources of law.

Defenses to a Hague Petition
Judge James Garbolino, Judge Marcia Krieger, and Judge Peter Messitte discuss the five defenses to an action for return of a child. These five defenses are narrowly defined and require specific standards of proof. A court also may refuse a petition for return of a child if the child objects to return, and, based on the age and maturity of the child, the court determines it is appropriate to consider the child’s views. Practical issues about interviewing children for such a determination are also discussed.

The Case in Chief
​Judge James Garbolino and Judge Marcia Krieger detail the following elements to the prima facie cause of action for return of a child: the child was wrongfully removed or retained; the child was removed from his or her habitual residence; there was a breach of the rights of custody under the law of the child’s habitual residence; the left-behind parent was exercising those custody rights; and the child is under the age of sixteen.

Case Management Considerations
Judge James Garbolino, Judge Marcia Krieger, and Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo cover some of the unique challenges of Hague Convention litigation and case-management strategies, including mediation, that can be helpful in handling such a case. Effective case management of Hague Convention cases can significantly facilitate the adjudication of these time-sensitive matters.

The Central Authority
Judge James Garbolino, Henry Hand (director of the Office of Children’s Issues), and Judge Peter Messitte discuss the Central Authority, an entity that each country that is a signatory to the 1980 Convention must designate to assist in the administration of the Convention. In the United States, the Central Authority is the U.S. State Department. Within the State Department, the Office of Children’s Issues is responsible for handling child abduction cases.