Jewish in Israel or Christian in Belgium: Is That What the Hague Convention is Supposed to Decide?

Jewish mother divorces Christian father.

In 2005, a Belgian court awarded custody of their now eight year old son to the father.

For the past eighteen months, however it came about, the mother has been raising the boy in Israel, in the Jewish faith, in particular, in the strict Orthodox tradition.

Now, the boy’s father is seeking his return to Belgium under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

If the child is returned to the father, the father will raise him as a Christian.

The mother contends that she was denied a fair trial, for lack of a translator and exclusion of her son’s testimony.

The mother further argues that sending the boy back to his father, a strange country, a new religion and, in essence, a new culture, would be damaging to the child – and that the Hague Convention allows room to protect a child from such psychological harm and for a child to object to return.

Those defenses do exist under the Convention, if made out.

The father, on the other hand, contends that the mother abducted the child and did the same things – as well as blocking contact with him.

A lower Israeli court has already ruled that the child must be returned to Belgium under the Hague Convention.

The mother awaits the outcome of her appeal.

The underlying custody battle makes for a particularly difficult case. Because of the stark contrast in life circumstances, it is, arguably, not just a choice between parents, but a choice between the two parents’ respective life choices.

And the parents’ respective rights.

Possibly without adequate regard for the rights of the child – who arguably faces a schizophrenic-seeming future if ordered returned now, at the age of eight.

Read more in this Jerusalem Post article: Raised Jewish in Israel, or Christian in Belgium?