You may feel as if your worst fears have come true. You feel helpless and that you can’t do anything when you hear that your child is not on the same soil as you and taken away from you.
One of the very few thoughts running through your mind would be wondering whether they are safe, how they are and even whether you can get them back safely.
The feeling of distress and disparity would one of many emotions that a parent would be feeling when you find out that your child has been taken away from you to another country. This sense of loss and not knowing what is to do is common.
The first thing would be to take prompt action by making an application under the Hague Convention in bringing the child back. The problem would be that such a convention only applies to signatory nations and such an application must be done within a year of the child’s removal.
The International Child Abduction Act applies the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which was signed at The Hague between Singapore and other contracting states in relation to wrongful removals or retentions of children under the age of 16. The Act is also open to Muslims.
The objects of the present Convention are to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in the other Contracting States. This is especially important in this time and age where there is a rise in cross border divorces.
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What do you do when one parent takes your child out of the country without your consent?
Other preliminaries issues include would be proving that the child was a “habitual resident” in Singapore prior to the “wrongful removal” out of the country. This may not be as straightforward as the Court takes into various factors such as the extent of the family’s integration into the country prior to the removal. Furthermore, the child’s citizenship does not necessarily mean that the child would “automatically” be considered the habitual resident of that country. The court looks beyond just that.
With the submission and filing of the necessary documents, a hearing date would be given by the Court. This is simply the start of the process and may not be as clear cut as made out to be.
In addition, there are defenses under the Hague Convention that have to be taken into account and the chances of the application getting rejected by the Court. There might also be a chance that custody would have to be fought for in the country which the child was removed to in the event the application gets rejected.
A child is treated with greater care and concern than an adult under the law. A child’s welfare would always be of paramount importance to the court and it is desirable for the child to grow up in the security of his family.
The process is complicated and it would be best that you approach the right divorce lawyers for help during this tough time. That is why you need to get the most experienced lawyers who are able to deal with such a high intense situation.