'I didn’t have a chance': perceptions of the attitudes and roles of legal professionals for women involved in Hague international child abduction cases


Studies of lawyers and clients tend to be lawyer centric. How clients see lawyers-their own or those of other parties-is less emphasised. In this article we report the perspective of ten women who had been subject to a Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction process. The Convention was created to address removal of children from custodial mothers by non-custodial fathers and aims to ensure the safe return of children to their country of “habitual residence”. However, the Hague Convention process, and the lawyers and courts that administer it, do not adequately respond to situations where mothers are fleeing domestic and family violence with their children. The women we spoke with had all fled domestic and family violence and sought safety by returning to their own country. They had been subject to a Hague Convention process for the return of their child(ren) to the country and custody of their perpetrator and experienced an accusatory, uncaring, hostile legal profession. The women felt that the lawyers were motivated by moral assessments of them and their behaviour. The lawyers were seen as participating and continuing the violence as an agent of the perpetrator and the stat

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