Parenting time as it relates to the 'Convention'

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Marie E. Matyjaszek

One of the least understood provisions that is contained in a good chunk of family law orders is the Hague Convention language, which is codified in the statute MCL 722.27a(10).

It states: “Except as provided in this subsection, a parenting time order shall contain a prohibition on exercising parenting time in a country that is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This subsection does not apply if both parents provide the court with written consent to allow a parent to exercise parenting time in a country that is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.”

Like many laws, it’s a mouthful, and a fair amount of people don’t know what the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is all about. In October of 1980, various countries joined the treaty to create a process to ensure that children who were wrongfully taken from their home country were returned to their home base.

Countries have continued to join the treaty throughout the years, which is an extremely positive step in ensuring that court orders from other countries relative to custody and parenting time will be respected around the world. Because countries are sovereign nations, they basically stay out of another country’s legal business. 

However, when a child has been abducted, and when the abduction has taken him to another country, it is important for the various nations to work together to resolve the abduction quickly.

The Michigan statute prohibits either parent from taking the minor child to a country that does not participate in the Hague Convention to prevent abductions to nations that won’t help the United States get the child back. The exception is that parents can agree to the travel if they provide their written consent to the court to allow it. Family visits and vacations are the most common reasons for parties to travel to a non-Hague country. 

If you are planning on taking a trip out of the U.S., it’s best to be proactive and double check that your destination is on the list of treaty partners. You want to take the kids to see the Great Pyramids in Egypt? You will need written consent to see the Sphinx because Egypt is not a Hague partner. But if your cruise stops in Jamaica, don’t worry, it joined the Convention in 2019. 

An official list of the treaty countries can be found at the U.S. Department of State’s website, https://travel.state.gov, by clicking on “International Parental Child Abduction” and then the subsection of “Country Information.” Safe travels!

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Marie Matyjaszek is an attorney referee at the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court; however, the views expressed in this column are her own.  




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