How Are Documents Formalized Under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction?

In international parental abduction cases, where a child has been wrongfully retained or abducted oftentimes there is a great need for evidence and documents from the home country. Some documents have to go through a local consulate, such as in Los Angeles to be recognized.

Formalisation of documents is a certification process that involves verifying the authenticity of the document, and the person who signed it, and their ability to be a signer. It is similar to having a document notarised, but with much greater respect.

Formalisation is also a process that has been used to slow down the process, stall the process or make it so burdensome that a person cannot continue. Which is one of the reasons that there was an international convention on abolishing the need for formalisation in 1961.

Article 23 in the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction:

No legalisation or similar formality may be required in the context of this Convention.

is an outgrowth of this Article 2 from the 1961 convention shown below:


Article 2 reads in pertinent part:

For the purposes of the present Convention, legalisation means only the formality by which the diplomatic or consular agents of the country in which the document has to be produced certify the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which it bears.

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