In 1980, in the Dutch capital of Hague, an international convention was drafted and laid down laws for dealing with the issue of international abduction. In Israel, the Child Abduction Law coincides with the Hague Convention, which declares that all final and important decisions concerning child custody and divorce shall be determined solely in the child’s country of origin. Furthermore, the Convention obliges all signatory countries to declare that transporting a child from his/her native country to another country, without both parents’ consent, is considered a severe violation of law. The Child Abduction Law states that in the event the child is abducted by one of the parents and taken to another country, without the consent of the other parent, the Law allows the parent in the native country to file a request for returning the child to the country of origin. All countries signatory to the Hague Convention are obliged to return the child to the country from which he/she was abducted.
In many situations in which a parent transports the child to another country, deliberations concerning custody are held in the country to which the child was taken, despite particulars of the Convention. This is because the ‘abducting’ parent claims that the child’s life would be in danger should the child be returned to the country of origin. The Israeli body authorized to deal with child abduction matters in Israel is the Department of International Affairs at the State Attorney’s Office. The family court deliberates over filed suits and acts according to written laws of the Hague Convention. There are certain deviations from the written laws in exceptional cases, for example in the event that more than a year has elapsed between the time a child was abducted to another country and the time at which a parent files a request for the child’s return to the country of origin—”…unless it is proven that the child has integrated into his/her new environment”.
Additionally, there is a law stating that the court may determine that a child should not be returned to his/her country in the event there are serious concerns for his/her life, physical or psychological injury; that returning to the country would create an irregular situation for the child; or if the child is opposed to returning. In situations in which a child is abducted to a country that hasn’t signed the Hague Child Abduction Convention, the parent who has remained in Israel may file a suit in that country for the child’s return. Furthermore, the parent can file a suit for the child’s return in an Israeli family court, or he/she can petition the Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem. The emphasis in both cases is solely on the child’s welfare. In any case, in the serious event of an international abduction, or abduction in Israel, we recommend you consult immediately with an attorney specializing in such matters.