"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I'm possible."
- Audrey Hepburn
Children - Child Abduction and the Hague Convention
With the ever-increasing mobility of society, parents frequently desire to move from one country to another for employment, health, or remarriage. The parent wishing to move has to obtain the express consent of the other parent, or the moving parent must obtain permission from the court to move the minor children to another country. A removal case is commonly more contentious than other parenting disputes, since there is much more at risk.
Along with the mobility factor, there is an emerging increase of Hague Convention cases that deal with children being taken from South Africa. These cases involve parents who have taken their children from their habitual residence across an international border, either secretly or against the will of the other parent. Any country that has signed the Hague Convention treaty, submits itself to the rules of procedure and evidence established by the convention. International custody litigation is therefore conducted in accordance with the Hague Convention.
An attorney must be prepared to file a Hague Convention application, and institute or defend a Hague Convention lawsuit on extremely short notice. Indeed, prompt action is critical. The convention specifically requires that hearings be conducted expeditiously. In practice, the longer a child has been in the foreign jurisdiction, the more likely it becomes that a court will be reluctant to order the return of the child to South Africa. Fast action by the left-behind parent is also necessary to defeat a claim that the left-behind parent consented to the taking of the child in the first place, or that the left-behind parent acquiesced in the child's relocation across an international border.