When a parent flees to another country with a child to evade the other parent’s custody rights, the Hague Convention, generally requires the child’s immediate return so that custody rights can be determined in the child’s country of residence. However, the United States Court is not bound to order the return of the child if there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation. In the recent case of Sabogal v. Velarde, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland entered an order that did not compel the immediate return of children to Peru despite the fact that it determined the children, at issue, were wrongfully removed in the first place. It made this determination based on the psychological abuse of the children and their mother by the father and an unresolved substance abuse problem of the father. The court did impose a complex set of conditions which would allow for the return of the children including a requirement that certain court rulings be reversed!
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