1: The purpose of this Convention is to secure
the prompt return of children habitually resident
in one State Party who have been wrongfully removed
from any State to a State Party or who, having been
lawfully removed, have been wrongfully retained. This
Convention further seeks to secure enforcement of
visitation and custody rights of parties entitled
2: For the purposes of this Convention, a child
shall be any person below the age of sixteen years.
3: For the purposes of this Convention:
Rights of custody include rights relating to the care
of the child and, in particular, the right to determine
the child's place of residence;
Rights of visitation include the right to take a child
for a limited period of time to a place other than
the child's habitual residence.
4: The removal or retention of a child shall be
considered wrongful whenever it is in breach of the
custody rights that parents, institutions or others
having such rights individually or jointly exercise
over the child under the law of the child's habitual
residence immediately prior to the removal or retention.
5: Any party designated by Article 4 may, in the
exercise of custody or similar rights, bring an action
for the child's return.
6: Judicial or administrative authorities of the
State Party in which the child habitually resided
immediately before the removal or retention shall
have jurisdiction to consider a petition for the child's
urgent cases, the applicant may choose, instead, to
file a request for the child's return directly with
authorities of the State Party in whose territory
the wrongfully removed or retained child is or is
thought to be when the re quest is made, or with the
authorities of the State Party in which the wrongful
act giving rise to the request took place.
a request in the manner described in the preceding
paragraph shall in no way alter the jurisdiction authorized
by the first paragraph of this article.
7: For the purposes of this Convention, each State
Party shall designate a central authority to ensure
fulfillment of the obligations established under this
Convention and shall inform the General Secretariat
of the Organization of American States of that designation.
the Central Authority shall assist the applicant and
competent authorities of the respective States in
locating and returning the child. It shall also facilitate
the prompt return and delivery of the child to the
applicant and assist the parties in obtaining the
necessary documents for proceedings under this Convention.
Central Authorities of the States Parties shall cooperate
with one another and exchange information on the operation
of the Convention in order to secure the prompt return
of children and to achieve the other purposes of this
A party seeking a child's return may file
an application or petition with the competent authorities
in accordance with Article 6:
By a letter rogatory;
By filing a request with a central authority; or
Directly, or through diplomatic or consular channels.
The application or petition referred to in Article
8 shall contain:
An account of the removal or retention and sufficient
in formation to identify the applicant, the removed
or retained child and, where possible, the person
alleged to have removed or retained the child;
Information on the presumed location of the child
and on the circumstances and dates of the removal
to a foreign country or of the expiration of the authorized
length of stay; and
The legal grounds for the child's return.
The application or petition shall be accompanied
A full and certified copy of a judicial or administrative
opinion, if any, or of a determination on which the
request is based; concise evidence of the existing
situation or, if appropriate, a statement of the pertinent
Certified documents establishing the standing of the
Certification of or information on the applicable
law of the State of the child's habitual residence
issued by the Central Authority of, or by any other
competent source in, that State;
Where necessary, translations into the official language
of the requested State of all documents referred to
in this article; and
A statement of the measures required to effect the
return of the child.
A competent authority may dispense with any of the
requirements or the ore sent at ion of documents called
for by this article if, in its opinion, the child's
return is justified.
Letters rogatory or requests, and the documents attached
thereto, shall not require certification if they are
transmitted through diplomatic or consular channels
or through the Central Authority.
The requested court, Central Authority, or
other competent authorities of the State where the
child is found shall, where appropriate, take all
measures conducive to the voluntary return of the
a voluntary return not take place, the judicial, or
administrative authorities, after verifying compliance
with Article 9, shall forthwith meet with the child
and take such measures to provide for its temporary
custody or care as the circumstances may dictate,
and shal1, where appropriate, immediately order its
return. Further, the agency charged by domestic law
with protecting the child's welfare shall be notified.
addition, while the application for return is pending,
the competent authorities shall take the necessary
steps to prevent the child from leaving their jurisdiction.
11: A judicial or administrative authority of
the requested State is not required to order the child's
return if the party raising objections to the return
The party seeking the child's return was not actually
exercising its rights at the time of the removal or
retention, or had consented to or subsequently acquiesced
in such removal or retention; or
There is a grave risk that the child' s return would
expose the child to physical or psychological danger.
requested authority may also refuse to order the child's
return if it finds that the child is opposed to it
and if, in the judgment of the requested authority,
the child's age and maturity warrant taking its views
12: The objections mentioned in Article 11 shall
be raised within a period of eight working days from
the time the authorities meet with the child and brine
such period to the attention of the person retaining
judicial or administrative authorities shall assess
the circumstances and the evidence furnished by the
opposing party to support its objections to the child's
return, shall ascertain the applicable law and judicial
or administrative precedents of the State of the child's
habitual residence, and, if necessary, shall request
assistance from Central Authorities, diplomatic agents
or consular officers of the States Parties.
judicial or administrative authority shall issue its
decision within sixty calendar days after receipt
of the objection.
13: If within forty-five calendar days after the
requesting authority has received notice of a decision
to return the child, the steps necessary for the child's
return have not been taken, the return order shall
become inoperative and any measures taken shall be
of the return shall be borne by the claimant; should
the claimant lack the means, the authorities of a
requesting State may defray the costs, which may be
recovered from the person responsible for the wrongful
removal or retention.
14: Proceedings under this Convention shall be
commenced within one calendar year of the wrongful
removal or retention.
to children whose location is unknown, the period
shall run from the time they are located.
expiration of the one-year period shall not bar the
child's return if, in the opinion of the requested
authority, the circumstances so warrant, unless it
is demonstrated that the child is settled in its new
The fact of a child's return shall not prejudge
the ultimate custody decision.
16: After receiving notice of a child's wrongful
removal or retention as defined in Article 4, the
judicial or administrative authorities of the State
Party to which the child has been removed or where
it is retained shall refrain from deciding on the
merits of custody claims until it is determined either
that the child is not to be returned under this Convention
or that no request pursuant to this Convention has
been lodged within a reasonable time following receipt
of such notice.
17: The foregoing provisions shall not limit the
power of a judicial or administrative authority to
order the child's return at any time.
Any person mentioned in Article 5 may directly,
through the Central Authority, or through the judicial
or administrative authorities of one State Party request
the competent authorities of another State Party to
locate children whose habitual residence is in the
State of the requesting authority and who are thought
to be wrongfully in the requested State.
request shall be accompanied by any information supplied
by the person making the request or gathered by the
requesting authority relevant to the locating of the
child and the identity of the person with whom the
child is presumed to be.
The Central Authority or judicial or administrative
authorities of one State Party which, upon learning
from a request pursuant to Article 18 that a child
wrongfully outside its habitual residence is located
within their jurisdiction, shall immediately take
all appropriate measures to safeguard its health and
prevent its concealment or removal to another jurisdiction.
location of the child shall be reported to the authorities
of the requesting State.
20: The measures adopted pursuant to Article 19
may be lifted if the child's return is not requested
within sixty calendar days after the authorities of
the requesting State have been informed of the location
of the child.
lifting of such measures shall not preclude exercise
of the right to request the child's return in accordance
with the procedures and time limits specified in this
Any person with visitation rights may, pursuant
to Article 6, address a request for their enforcement
to the competent authorities of any State Party. The
same procedures shall be followed as chose governing
a request for a child's return under this Convention.
22: Letters rogatory and requests for the return
or the locating of children may be transmitted, as
appropriate, to the requested authority by the parties
themselves, or through judicial, diplomatic, or consular
channels, or through the Central Authority of the
requesting or the requested State.
23: The processing of letters rogatory or requests
under this Convention and the measures arising there from
shall be free of charge and exempt from any tax, deposit
or bond, however named.
parties initiating a letter rogatory or request that
have appointed a person to represent them in the requested
forum shall bear any expenses incurred in connection
with such representation.
upon ordering a child's return under this Convention,
the competent authorities may, where appropriate,
direct the person who wrongfully removed or retained
the child to pay the necessary expenses incurred by
the applicant, chose incurred in locating the minor,
and the costs of return.
24: The arrangements and measures necessary to
give effect to letters rogatory shall not require
the intervention of the petitioner, and shall be implemented
directly by the requested authority. This procedure,
however, shall not bar any party from intervening
either personally or through a duly appointed representative.
25: A child's return under this Convention may
be refused where it would be manifestly in violation
of the fundamental principles of the requested State
recognized by universal and regional instruments on
human rights or on the rights of children.
26: This Convention shall not bar the competent
authorities from ordering the child's immediate return
when its removal or retention is a criminal offense.
27: As a Specialized Organization of the Organization
of American States, the Inter-American Children's
Institute shall be responsible for coordinating the
activities of the Central Authorities within the scope
of the Convention and for receiving and evaluating
information from the States Parties in respect of
application of the Convention.
shall also be responsible for cooperating with other
international organizations competent in the matter.
28: This Convention shall be open for signature
by the Member States of the Organization of American
This Convention is subject to rat if teat
ion. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited
with the General Secretariat of the Organization of
30: This Convention shall remain open for accession
by any other State. The instruments of accession shall
be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization
of American States.
31: Each State may, at the time of signature,
ratification or accession, make reservations to this
Convention, provided that each reservation concerns
one or more specific provisions and is not incompatible
with the purposes and objectives of this Convention.
32: If a State has two or more territorial units
in which different systems of law apply in relation
to the matters dealt with in this Convention, it may,
at the time of signature, ratification or accession,
declare that this Convention shall extend to all its
territorial units or to only one or more of them.
declaration may be modified by subsequent declarations,
which shall expressly indicate the territorial unit
or units to which the Convention applies. Such subsequent
declarations shall be transmitted to the General Secretariat
of the Organization of American States, and shall
become effective thirty days after the date of their
33: In the case of a State that, with respect
to the custody of children, has two or more systems
of law applicable in different territorial units:
reference to the habitual residence in that State
refers to habitual residence in a territorial unit
of that State;
reference to the law of the State of habitual residence
refers to the law of the territorial unit in which
the child has its habitual residence.
34: Among the Member States of the Organization
of American States that are parties to this Convention
and to the Hague Convention of October 25, 1980 on
the civil aspects of international child abduction,
this Convention shall prevail.
States Parties may enter into bilateral agreements
to give priority to the application of the Hague Convention.
35: This Convention shall limit neither the provisions
of existing or future bilateral or multilateral conventions
on this subject entered into by the States Parties,
nor the more favorable practices that those States
may observe in this area.
36: This Convention shall enter into force on
the thirtieth day following the date of deposit of
the second instrument of ratification.
each State ratifying; or acceding to the Convention
after the deposit of the second instrument of ratification,
the Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth
day after deposit by such State of its instrument
of ratification or accession.
This Convention shall remain in force indefinitely,
but any of the States Parties may denounce it. The
instrument of denunciation shall be deposited with
the General Secretariat of the Organization of American
States. After one year from the date of deposit of
the instrument of denunciation, the Convention shall
no longer be in force for the denouncing State, but
shall remain in force for the other States Parties.
38: The original instrument of this Convention,
the English, French, Portuguese and Spanish texts
of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited
with the General Secretariat of the Organization of
American States, which shall forward an authenticated
copy of its text to the Secretariat of the United
Nations for registration and publication in accordance
with Article 102 of its Charter. The General Secretariat
of the Organization of American States shall notify
the Member States of that Organization and the States
that have acceded to the Convention of the signatures,
deposits of instruments of ratification, accession
and denunciation, as well as of reservations, if any.
It shall also transmit the declarations provided for
in the pertinent articles of this Convention.
WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned Plenipotentiaries,
being duly authorized thereto by their respective
Governments, have signed this Convention.
AT MONTEVIDEO. EASTERN REPUBLIC OF URUGUAY,
this fifteenth day of July, one thousand nine hundred