Language Translation and Child Custody: Hague Convention vs. European Court of Human Rights

We’ve blogged about professional translation services in the context of international child custody cases. Although The Hague Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) tend to be similar and thus connected, there are areas of contention – which may have significant impact on jurisdiction. In the recent Case of Neulinger and Shuruk, the European Court of Human Rights (Court) determined that a Swiss return order under the Hague Convention violated the right to family life under the ECHR. This particular case involved a Swiss court order for a mother to return the child to Israel, ruling that the father had custody and thus the mother needed consent before removing the child from the country.

Under The Hague Convention, in order for the mother to keep the child, she first had to demonstrate that returning to Israel with the father would pose a grave risk to the child. However, the mother argued that regardless of the Hague Convention, the return would violate the ECHR, which states that the best interests of the child must be examined in each individual case and that the return could interfere with the right to family life.

The significance of this case is that it adds an additional layer into international child custody law, essentially giving one parent various options to argue under. Now parents are able to bring arguments under the various laws of the involved nations, The Hague Convention and/or the ECHR – meaning numerous foreign language translations of the various applicable laws will be required.

Up Next: Foreign Language Translations and the Lemon Law