Turning Our Backs on the Children

Implications of Recent Decisions Regarding the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was enacted in 1988, with the goal of ensuring that children wrongfully abducted across international borders are promptly returned according to the legal rights and procedures of the proper state. The interpretation of the Convention standards over the last ten years, by the United States and other joined countries, has been varied. After a brief overview of the policies underlying the Convention, the author examines the core terms and procedures for returning a wrongfully abducted child and how the courts have subsequently applied these standards. The focus of this note is on one particular exception that is the source of much of the present confusion, the exception that wrongfully abducted children be returned unless returning would cause a grave risk of harm to the child. The author sets forth the various interpretations of when a grave risk of harm to the child arises, highlighting inconsistencies among different courts and the dangerous implications of these interpretations, especially for the children involved. At the center of the author\'s concern is the recent decision in Blondin v. Dubois, where the Second Circuit significantly narrowed the interpretation of the grave risk exception, adding a further step of analysis to the grave risk determination. The author proposes adopting a broader interpretation of what constitutes a grave risk of harm and demonstrates not only why her proposal would be well within the scope of the Convention, but also why it is essential in furthering the Convention\'s fundamental purpose, to protect the interests of the children who have been abducted.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.