July 12, 2006
THE HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION
By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney
You asked for an update of OLR Report 99-R-0792 on possible conflicts between The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
The Hague Convention's treaty on international child abduction has not been amended since the OLR report was written on August 18, 1999. And the state's uniform law on child custody has neither been significantly amended nor the subject of any court case since that time. Thus, it appears that the 1999 OLR report is still accurate regarding any conflicts between the two laws.
The remainder of this report consists of brief summaries of minor changes to the state Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (CGS § 46b-115a et seq.) and background information on the Hague Convention's international child abduction treaty.
CHANGES TO THE UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT
Minor changes to the state law, which specifies the state that has jurisdiction when parties in a custody or visitation dispute live in different states, were made in 2000, before the law took effect, and in 2001. These changes subjected public agencies to the law, and addressed requests for confidentiality and registration of out-of-state custody orders.
PA 00-49 included public agencies in the definition of person as it is used in the law. For example, it (1) makes a state court's child custody determinations binding on all persons, including public agencies, and (2) requires notice for personal jurisdiction over out-of-state persons, including public agencies, to amount to actual notice (CGS §§ 46b-115a, -115e, and -115g).
Under the law as originally drafted (PA 99-185), each party to a child custody proceeding had to provide the court with certain information. But a party could allege, in an affidavit or pleading under oath that a child's or party's health, safety, or liberty would be endangered by disclosure of identifying information. The information then could not be disclosed unless the court, after a hearing, decided that disclosure was in the interests of justice.
PA 00-49 required a party to use a form prescribed by the chief court administrator, rather than an affidavit or pleading, to make this allegation. PA 00-191 amended PA 00-49 by allowing parties to use an affidavit, pleading, or the form. PA 00-191 also specified that the information that could be withheld was the child's address rather than his identity. PA 01-186 required parties making the allegation to do so under oath. It also required that the allegation (1) provide obvious notice to the court clerk; (2) not contain location information that posed the risk unless the court ordered it; (3) identify in writing documents previously filed with the court that contained location information that posed the risk; and (4) provide the clerk with a mailing address that could be disclosed to the public if the party making the allegation was not represented by an attorney.
Hearing to Contest Registration
PA 99-185 required parties registering copies of child custody decrees from other states for enforcement in Connecticut to provide, by certified mail or personal service, notice to people named in the filing. The notice recipient could request a hearing to contest the registration within 20 days. PA 00-49 made a grammatical change to make it clear that notice recipients could request a hearing only if they wished to contest the registration. PA 00-191 required any such hearing to be held within 20 days of the request for it.
BACKGROUND ON THE CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty that attempts to deal with situations where a parent wrongfully takes a child from one country to another or keeps the child in a country without the other parent's permission or legal authority to do so. It was drafted in final form on October 25, 1980. It was ratified and took full effect in the U.S. on July 1, 1988. As of June 2005, the treaty was in effect in 76 countries. For a list of these countries, visit http://patriot.net/~crouch/hague.html.