resources. Some expressed themselves to be “very angry with the system”.
One mother explained how she believed that the effect of the Hague Convention has been to stunt her growth in that she and her children were returned to the State of habitual residence from which she has now been given custody, but not leave to remove from the jurisdiction, so that the return order was, to her, a sentence of imprisonment from which she cannot escape.
Notwithstanding the excellent record that the jurisdiction of England and Wales enjoys in dealing with Hague applications, this is not reflected in all Hague jurisdictions and the unevenness of the playing field46continues to be felt by many of those involved in the process. Some parents interviewed spoke of the lottery of pro bono representation in those countries where legal aid is not provided for abduction cases. One left- behind parent had chosen to pay for expert legal representation in such circumstances so as to avoid the delay and the uncertain quality which can be experienced in pro bono representation. This caused financial stress in this particular case but, in others, self-financing proceedings may not even be a possibility so leaving the parent with no choice in the matter. One mother stated that “non-availability of legal aid for the seeking parent can be completely devastating”.
Other Aspects of the Abduction Process
The lack of after-care support was a recurrent theme with those interviewed. Parents spoke of the “lonely struggle” of having to find support for themselves at a time when it was difficult to deal with their own emotions. This was contrasted, by many parents, with the very welcome support and assistance they had experienced through the reunite parent support network during
46 See Freeman, The Hague Child Abduction Convention – An Uneven Playing Field, Part 11 – Legal Aid and the Role of Administrative Proceedings, Occasional Papers on the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, International Child Abduction and Related Issues, Part 11, reunite, 2002.