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Domestic Violence Harms the Child! The Seventh Circuit Puts Children First in International Custody Disputes
By: Jennifer S. Tier / 2007
Family Law—International Child Abductions
Abstract: What happens when a United States citizen parent takes her child from a foreign country, where they have been living, to the United States in order to escape domestic violence? Traditionally, under the Hague Convention, American courts would implement the "remedy of return," thereby returning the child to the foreign country, where the abuser resides. While the Hague Convention provides a defense to this remedy if there is a "grave risk of harm" to the child, some circuit courts have declined to extend this defense to cases of domestic violence or have nevertheless implemented the remedy of return. The Seventh Circuit, however, has set an example for other circuits by expanding the scope of the "grave risk of harm" defense under the Hague Convention to include cases of domestic violence, declining to return children to the country where the abuser resides. This Comment will provide background on the Hague Convention and an overview on American jurisprudence concerning application of the Convention in cases of domestic violence. It will then conclude that the Seventh Circuit, in Van de Sande v. Van de Sande, properly expanded the scope of the grave risk of harm defense in cases of domestic violence.