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especially the child(ren). Other left-behind parents who had received proper legal advice told of employing the Hague Convention successfully, whilst knowing that the abducting parent was being improperly advised in the abducted-to State by lawyers who did not really understand the Hague process.

Abducting parents report seeking legal advice both in the State of habitual residence pre-abduction and then, again, in the abducted-to State post-abduction and, on both occasions, being told that they were not acting contrary to any law in abducting the child and, with the full knowledge of the child’s abduction, of being advised to apply for custody in the abducted-to State and, in some cases, of being encouraged by their legal advisers to return in order to do so. One abducting parent was re-assured by her legal advisers on her arrival in the abducted-to State, and for several weeks thereafter, that “everything was fine” and was shocked to learn, only one week before the Hague hearing, that she was going to be sent back “because I had broken the law”.

Abducting parents have admitted that, if they had been given the correct information before leaving the State of habitual residence, that they would never have taken the child(ren) as they would then have been aware that this might result in the loss of that child(ren)’s custody. It was a risk, these parents stated, that they would never have taken. Support for this statement of principle may be found in the actions of some abducting parents who, once they were properly informed of the legal position, returned voluntarily to the State of habitual residence. One abducting mother suggested that there should be warnings at airports and other points of exit regarding the possible consequences of abducting your own child in terms of the potential to lose custody. She stated that better and more accurate information must be available at the early stages as this may mean that some abductions would not happen. Several parents stated that people are still not aware that you can abduct your own child.


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