The Hague Treaty on International Child Abduction was signed by more then 80 countries. It states that abducted children should be returned to the country of residence for a custody hearing. Unfortunately, several of the countries that have signed this treaty do not effectively enforce it. In these non-compliant countries, the government agency tasked with overseeing treaty cases does not have the authority or simply fails to enforce the agreement.
Often these cases are mishandled by the respective judiciary. Instead of returning the child to the country of residence so that custody can be determined based upon the laws of that country, these judges too often make a custody determination. Because many courts favor citizens over foreigners, typically this results in the abducting parent being granted custody.
In these cases, the next step is often appeals and counter suits, sometimes lasting years. Children grow up seperated from the left behind parent, often learning a new language and lied to concerning the lost parent. The longer the period of seperation, the easier it becomes to argue that it is in the child's best interest to stay where they have become adjusted.
The impact is also devasting to the left behind parent. The Hague Treaty often gives these parents a false sense of optimism, since it demands that the child be returned within six weeks. However it does nothing to enforce this agreement. There is no penalty for noncompliance.