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Abstract

Since 1980, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Child Abduction Convention) has been ratified by eighty-one countries, including the United States. The Child Abduction Convention addresses the growing problem of child abductions by estranged parents across international borders and the diverse methods that different countries have developed for dealing with this problem. It provides for a simple summary-return mechanism to be administered by the courts of member states: a wrongfully removed (or retained) child is to be returned to (or permitted to stay in) his or her country of “habitual residence.” However, the Child Abduction Convention does not define the term “habitual residence,” and so courts worldwide have been forced to shape their own standards. In the United States, a rough divide stands between those federal circuit courts that emphasize the parents’ last shared subjective intentions in determining “habitual residence” and those that focus on objective indicators of a child’s acclimatization. This Note argues in favor of an objective approach because it best accomplishes the Child Abduction Convention’s aim of instituting a globally uniform and efficient process for resolving international child abduction disputes.

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