In the Best Interest of the Child


Each year more than 200,000 children in the United States are abducted by family members. When a child is abducted across international borders, the difficulties are compounded. Since the late 1970s, The Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues has been contacted in approximately 16,000 cases involving children who were either abducted from the United States or prevented from returning to the U.S. by one of their parents.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Convention”) adopted on October 24, 1980, reflects a worldwide concern about the harmful effects that parental kidnapping has on children and a strong desire for an effective deterrent to such conduct. As is the case with many international conventions, however, the Convention avoided defining many of its key terms, resulting in inconsistencies in the application of the Convention both between Contracting States and within courts of Contracting States, such as the United States.

The objective of the Convention is to secure the prompt return of the child to their country of habitual residence. This return must not, however, be at the expense of the child’s welfare and must more effectively and consistently consider what is “In the Best Interest of the Child,” particularly where there is credible evidence of domestic violence and/or child abuse.


Family Law | Human Rights Law | International Law | Juvenile Law | Law and Gender

Date of this Version

March 2006