USS Cole, the ship at the heart of the suit. U.S. Navy photo.

Last fall, I posted “FSIA Service… it’s really not that difficult” following several very poorly titled articles describing the Trump Administration’s support of a foreign government’s argument in a sovereign immunity case.  Sudan had asserted that service on its Embassy in Washington was not appropriate under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and the Department of Justice weighed in on Sudan’s side.  The outrage from both left and right irked the hell out of me.  But the knee-jerk, non-lawyer reaction from the left– my own people, for crying out loud– really set my teeth on edge.  Yesterday, logic won.

Not to brag, but I picked the tally, right down to which single justice out of the nine would be on the wrong side of reason…

This is a pretty straightforward question, and one I suspect the Supremes will decide on a lopsided (8-1?) vote.***  It all boils down to this: The Sudanese Foreign Minister isn’t resident in Washington.  He’s in Khartoum.  And even when he is in Washington representing his government, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations will thwart service on his person.

***  Thomas, J. in dissent, maybe.

Nailed it.  Yesterday, in Republic of Sudan v. Harrison, the Supremes held 8-1 (Thomas, J. dissenting!), that the Sudanese Foreign Minister isn’t resident in Washington.  He’s in Khartoum.  From the Syllabus:  “A foreign nation’s embassy in the United States is neither the residence nor the usual place of business of that nation’s foreign minister.”

Ah, bright lines.




Credit Suisse, one of the biggest banks in Zurich.  Which is saying something.  Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Zürich (CH), Paradeplatz — 2011 — 1381” / CC BY-SA 4.0

I’ve seen a huge spike lately in the number of divorce attorneys calling about serving subpoenas on offshore banks.  The routine story: Spouse A (usually the wife, but not always) has learned that Spouse B (usually the husband, but not always) has tucked a few thousand dollars into some offshore account, usually in one of several countries that are famous for stringent banking secrecy laws.  Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and the Channel Islands are those that come to mind, but protecting depositors’ privacy is fairly universal in the industrialized world.  As such, the calls haven’t been limited to the famous banking havens.

Whatever the venue court might call the financial declarations in a dissolution, both spouses are required to disclose assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. Everybody must lay all of their cards on the table in a divorce action, and I haven’t seen a state yet that exempts offshore assets from the disclosure requirement.  You tell what you have or you face the judge’s wrath.  Pretty simple, right?

Nope.  Amazingly, there are still a whole bunch of brilliant litigants out there who think they’re smarter than the judge– if I hide my cash in Zurich, there’s no way to prove I have it, because that’s where all the Nazis kept their cash and we still don’t know how much is squirreled away there!

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Spouse B.  The Swiss have opened up their legal code to allow for disclosure in matters of fraud.  They’ve taken great pains to return all that cash the Nazis squirreled away.  You’re not going to be able to hide your fortune away from the world and then show up in Zurich like Jason Bourne to get cash out of his numbered account.  We can find out what you’ve hidden.  The only trick… is how.

So back to the heart of the call from Spouse A’s lawyer.  How do you serve a subpoena on an offshore bank?

Short answer: you don’t.  At least, not if you actually want it to work.  Yes, theoretically, you can serve a subpoena under the Hague Service Convention– in some places.

In other places, various authorities may view your service attempt as a usurpation of judicial authority and reject your request.  More to the point, even if the thing could be served, it has no teeth, so good luck enforcing it.

Serve a U.S. subpoena on a Cayman bank, and the bank will rightly ignore your demand.  Likewise a Swiss bank or a Jersey bank or Singaporean bank.  They’re all going to giggle at you just a bit while sticking your subpoena quietly in a drawer. Why?  Well, a subpoena loses its coercive effect when it leaves its own jurisdiction– and it only gets it back if (1) a statute automatically confers it– see the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA)– or (2) if a court in the foreign* state blesses it with that court’s authority– as in a garden variety domestication action.

But there is no treaty comparable to UIDDA.  And an offshore foreign** court is just not going to rubber-stamp a New York subpoena like a Missouri court would (Full Faith & Credit is not a thing overseas).

The alternative?  A Letter of Request pursuant to the Hague Evidence Convention.  That comes with some Cardinal Rules, which I outlined more thoroughly in late-2016:

  1. Take the words “any and all”, and eliminate them from your vocabulary. Seriously.  They are the hallmark of good old ‘Murican discovery, and foreign courts hate that.
  2. Articulate precisely how that evidence is going to be used at trial.  Not that you think it may lead to other evidence or that you suspect that it might be relevant.  You have to say you need it to impeach a witness’ expected testimony or that it is a critical component of your trial theory…
  3. Hire local counsel in the foreign jurisdiction.  They’ll help us/you draft the request.  And they’ll appear for you in the foreign court fielding the request.

Pertinent to the questions here is a variant of #2.  Not only can you indicate that the information sought will be used to impeach Spouse B’s Asset & Liability Statement, but also indicate that the U.S. court needs to adjudicate an allegation of fraud.  Courts around the world take a very dim view of lying to other courts– whether by commission or omission.  A properly formatted Hague Evidence Request that includes a fraud allegation… better odds of success.

So don’t just serve that thing.  Even just starting the proper procedure may prompt the opposing spouse to come clean.


* Foreign in the “across State Line Road” sense.  Not in the “you need a passport to go there” sense.

** Foreign in the “you need a passport to go there” sense.

1854 Grimms’ German Dictionary, via Wikimedia Commons

Here we go again.  I’ve written before in this space that, yes, counsel, you do have to translate that thing.

But resistance keeps coming up in the legal community:  “oh, come on, the defendant lived in Chicago* for twelve years– the guy speaks English!”

Perhaps, but he lives in Germany now, and you’re serving him there.  Germany requires translation into German, without regard to the defendant’s competence in English.

(Yet they continue to push.)

Look– it’s not about the fellow you’re serving, folks.  It’s about the rules.  It’s about foreign sovereignty and the right to control legal procedure within that sovereign’s borders.  It’s about Germany’s accession to the Hague Service Convention, which includes a requirement that all documents served in Germany be (1) in German, or (2) accompanied by a German translation.  Period.  There’s no “however…” in the declaration.

Why is that?  Well, remember that in civil law jurisdictions, serving process is the responsibility of the court— not of the plaintiff– which means the documents are going to cross the desks of several court employees and other government bureaucrats, each of whom has a responsibility to ensure that proper documents are served in a proper manner.  But if they can’t understand what’s in those documents, the manner doesn’t matter.  Here in the common law realm, a process server doesn’t give a fiddly fig about what’s in the documents.  Not so in the civil.

It’s a policy question– those foreign bureaucrats cannot possibly do their job properly if we American lawyers don’t do ours properly.  And even at that, think farther down the road– if enforcement in that foreign country might eventually be an issue, the judge hearing the case will surely want the originating documents in his/her own language.

Another tidbit that creeps into the conversation when I’m explaining to clients that translation is necessary– if note required:  “well, can’t I just translate the summons and complaint, but leave the exhibits in English?”


Exhibits are part of the complaint, so to keep translation costs down, keep the pleadings short.  Lawyers don’t get paid by the word… but translators do.

But translate every word, every page.  If it has to be handed to the defendant, it has to be translated.

In short, to borrow a tagline from a little shoe store in Oregon… JUST DO IT.

* Some trivia here.  What is the second largest Polish city?  Chicago, Illinois.  Or so they tell me.  It may be urban legend, but it’s fun, and although I haven’t been to Gdansk or Cracow or Warsaw, I know I can get great kielbasa in the Windy City.  One of my best friends is descended from the characters in Sinclair’s The Jungle.  She grew up following the White Sox.  All Southside, all Polish, all the time!  In Poland, though, Hague translation requirements are a bit less stringent than in Germany: you don’t have to submit a Polish translation of English documents if the defendant accepts them voluntarily.  But here’s the looming question: if that defendant is going to just accept the documents, why wouldn’t he just save everybody the trouble and simply waive?  It bears repeating– JUST DO IT.

Waterfront Dr, Road Town, Tortola. Kevin Stroup via Wikimedia Commons.

We ain’t building rockets here.  But we are building a ship of sorts, and a leaky hull means the cruise ship might not get you to that cabana sheltered rum drink you’ve been craving.  Serving process in the British Virgin Islands is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which U.S. venue* is hearing the matter– in exactly the same way as service in England and Wales.  Still an overseas territory, the United Kingdom has extended the Convention’s coverage to the archipelago.  A critical note, though… that archipelago straddles an international boundary– between the United Kingdom and the United States.  On one side, the BVI, and on the other, the USVI.  Some confusion tends to result when someone calls me to “serve a defendant in the Virgin Islands” and I respond… which Virgin Islands?

If you’re serving in the United States territory, handle it no differently than you would in Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia.

But in the British islands… think Hague methods.

Some background is in order, if you’re so inclined, before we cut to the chase.

  • The roadmap to the overall process—the recipe to our Secret Sauce.
  • The structure of the Convention itself is discussed in this four-part series.
  • And another absolutely critical note: the Hague Service Convention does not confer coercive effect on subpoenas.  Theoretically, you can serve it, but it won’t do much good.

And the nuts & bolts aspect of our show, in case you need to serve a resort or one of the corporations that have set up a figurative (ie: legal) home in the BVI:

Article 5 Service

  • Translate the documents. But the UK’s declaration to Article 5(3) requires that documents be in English, so… game over, right?  Pack up and go home?  Not so fast, counsel… make sure your individual defendant speaks English, because his U.S. Due Process rights follow him, in a sense.  Anybody sued in a U.S. court must be served in a language they understand, so if they don’t speak English, translation is still necessary.
  • Fill out a USM-94. Be very careful about ensuring that it is complete and concise, and make sure that it is signed by a court official or an attorney.  If it is not, make sure that the person signing is commissioned by the court.
  • Send to the Central Authority.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—likely several months from submission to return of proof.

Article 10 alternative methods

  • Mail service is available, but it’s a bad idea.
  • Service via private agent (process server) is available to U.S. litigants under Article 10(c). This is absolutely criticalmake sure to have the process server instructed by a solicitor, or the attempt to serve is ineffective, as it violates the UK’s position on Article 10.

The UK’s declarations and Central Authority information can be found here.

Bonus practice tip… if you’re defense counsel, always question the validity of service effected on your overseas client.  The plaintiff may not have done it correctly.

* For Canadian litigators, Hague channels are certainly available, but there may be a Commonwealth mechanism that makes the procedure even simpler.

Yeah, cruise ships dock there. A lot. [Prince George Wharf, Nassau Harbor. TampAGS, for AGS Media, via Wikimedia Commons.]
We ain’t building rockets here.  But we are building a ship of sorts, and a leaky hull means the cruise ship might not get you to that cabana sheltered rum drink you’ve been craving.  Serving process in the Bahamas is subject to the strictures of the Hague Service Convention, regardless of which venue is hearing the matter.  No longer an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, the Bahamas adopted an independent constitution in 1968,* and fully implemented the Service Convention thirty years later.  Not even 200 miles off south Florida, the islands get a whole bunch of tourists– and commerce– from the U.S. & Canada, and lawsuits are a natural result.

Some background is in order, if you’re so inclined, before we cut to the chase.

  • The roadmap to the overall process—the recipe to our Secret Sauce.
  • The structure of the Convention itself is discussed in this four-part series.
  • And an absolutely critical note: the Hague Service Convention does not confer coercive effect on subpoenas.  Repeat after me—you can’t just SERVE a subpoena abroadYou have to send a Letter Rogatory (the Evidence Convention isn’t in effect in the Bahamas).  Dramatically different from serving a summons or notice.

Now for the nuts & bolts aspect of our show:

Article 5

  • Translation: The Bahamas make no declarations to Article 5(3) of the Hague Service Convention. As a former British Colony, English is the operating language, so game over, right?  Pack up and go home?  Not so fast, counsel… make sure your individual defendant speaks English, because his U.S. Due Process rights follow him, in a sense.  Anybody sued in a U.S. court must be served in a language they understand, so if they don’t speak English, translation is still necessary.
  • Fill out a USM-94. Be very careful about ensuring that it is complete and concise, and make sure that it is signed by a court official or an attorney.  If it is not, make sure that the person signing is commissioned by the court.
  • Send to the Central Authority, along with the requisite fee.
  • Sit tight. It may take a while—likely three or four months from submission to return of proof.

Article 10

  • The Bahamas do not object to service via Article 10 methods.
  • Mail service is available, but it’s a bad idea anyway.
  • Service via private agent (process server) is available to U.S. litigants under Article 10(b)/10(c).

Central Authority information for the Bahamas and for the other countries in the treaty—can be found here.  Pretty straightforward stuff down there; not a lot of fanfare, if you’re careful and complete the right paperwork.

Bonus practice tip… if you’re defense counsel, always question the validity of service effected on your overseas client.  The plaintiff may not have done it correctly.

* Interestingly, the UK didn’t see it that way until five years on, with the “grant” of full independence in 1973, although Queen Elizabeth remains the islands’ sovereign.  Even more interestingly, the Queen’s uncle– who had abdicated, making her father king– was governor of the islands from 1940-45.  Not a bad gig, if you ask me.

Cannon Point, Diego Garcia. Blaine Steinert, via Wikimedia Commons.

Three years before Mauritius gained its independence from the United Kingdom (ie: 1965 and 1968), a chain of tiny islands in the Indian Ocean were separated from the island colony, and still remain under British control five decades later.  On Monday, the International Court of Justice Issued an advisory opinion holding that the UK had illegally separated the archipelago from Mauritius, raising a slew of questions as to the strategic islands’ future.

The history of the case can be found on the ICJ’s website here, with the Opinion itself here, and U.S. Judge Joan Donoghue’s dissent here.

Cold War history buffs will be most familiar with the Chagos Archipelago because of the U.S. military’s lease of the British Airbase on Diego Garcia and the expulsion of native islanders to make way for U.S. personnel in the late 1960s.  The opinion arguably sets the stage for the removal of U.S. and British presence.*

Hat tip to my friend Tim Lynch, professor of international law at UMKC and former U.S. Navy officer who spent a bit of time on the island, for bringing the opinion to my attention before the New York Times.  Tim characterizes the place as “bliss,” and every picture I’ve seen of it support that assessment.  A hat tip, also, to my friend and future colleague (he’s working toward a J.D. after a distinguished military & law enforcement career) Paul Myers, for posting a bit deeper analysis about the ramifications of the opinion on LinkedIn, May 13, 2019.

* I highly doubt we’ll ever see that come to pass.  After all, the United Kingdom refused to consent to the jurisdiction of the ICJ, and the British don’t take kindly to smaller nations that attempt to kick it off remote islands while a strong-willed female Tory Prime Minister is in office.

Medallion – Signing of The Last WIll and Testament of The Springfield Presbytery @ Cane Ridge Meeting House, Paris, Kentucky. Chris Light, via Wikimedia Commons.

It happens all the time.

I’ll give a lecture or mention what I do at a bar association event, and the colleague I just met will express appreciation for what I do, tell me it’s a really neat niche, and then try to convince himself that our practice areas don’t overlap.  I’m here to tell you that, yes, they do.  But it’s tough to convince highly experienced professionals that something outside their wheelhouse might be a challenge in the not-too-distant future.

The conversation usually goes something like this:

Sorry, Aaron.  I’m an estate planning lawyer. I’ll never need to serve anybody in a foreign country.  But thanks for doing that CLE.  You’re a funny guy.  (Funny how?  I’m a clown?  I amuse you?)  No, I mean I really like how you got that picture of Boromir into your slide deck!

This is Boromir, from the Fellowship of the Ring. It is not Ned Stark.

Wait a sec, there, pal.  It’s likely that you’ll eventually have to serve abroad someday.  Ever represent a client who wants to contest the Last Will and Testament of an estranged relative?  (Yes.)  How about if that will that leaves the decedent’s prize collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia to his Cousin Seamus in Dublin?  Think someone might have to serve ol’ Seamus?  (Hmmmm.)  Bear with me here…

It doesn’t matter what court is handling the case– estate litigation is still litigation.  And if you need to hale into court an individual heir (or devisee or… whatever the state-specific term is for cousin Seamus) who is outside the United States, you’re going to have to know how to do it the right way.

If you have any sort of adverse party abroad– or even someone whose interest align with your client’s, but who must be served certain notice or pleadings– strict rules must be observed.

Estate litigation is still litigation.

So how do you do that?

It bears repeating.  The Hague Service Convention controls how all this gets done wherever it applies.  It’s a treaty, to which the United States is a party, and which entered into force right about the time my mom graduated from high school.  Thanks to the Supremacy Clause, its strictures trump lesser laws.  A gentle reminder:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.  (Art. VI-2)

(Emphasis mine.)

Serving in Ireland is pretty straightforward.  We prep the documents for service under Article 10(b), send them to my Irish solicitor, and he takes it from there.

The Ha’Penny Bridge, across the River Liffey in Dublin. Odds are, Cousin Seamus walked across this to see Elvis back in the day.
The Peace Palace, den Haag.

Yesterday afternoon, I had the great pleasure of guest lecturing for a friend who teaches international management at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at UMKC.  The topics we touched on ranged from general knowledge about the dispute resolution process (negotiation, mediation, arbitration, litigation…) to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  A good chunk of my lecture described what I do during within a more broad description of how a lawsuit progresses:  The Hague Service Convention… I live in that treaty.

One student posed an incredibly pertinent question– preceded by the phrase “this is probably a stupid question, but…”

Well, first of all, there’s no such thing, I said.  If something doesn’t make sense, then the lesson is the problem– not your question.

“Okay.  Who is Hague?

I had to take a beat before answering, because the lesson and the assumptions underlying it were definitely the problem.  I very wrongly assumed that everybody knew what “The Hague” was.  After all, I visited there when I was six years old.  But then, very few people are lucky enough to spend part of their childhood abroad on Uncle Sam’s dime.  I really felt like a jerk.

My answer:  The Hague isn’t a ‘who’– it’s a ‘where’.  A gorgeous little city in the Netherlands, that just happens to be the primary seat of international law.

I went on to describe the International Court of Justice, the Hague Conference on International Law, and the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.  Somehow the conversation turned to war crimes and international justice, and I was thrilled.  These students were not only highly interested and caring, but pretty knowledgeable to boot.

The feeling that I’d missed something so basic in the lesson was mercifully overcome by a worthwhile and unanticipated discussion.  If these students are any indication, a bit of optimism is in order.

Sleeping Child (circa 1893) by Rosina Emmet Sherwood.

An important term of art arises in Hague analysis, but the definition of the term varies depending on which treaty is being applied, and depending on who is defining it.  Both the Hague Adoption Convention (1993) and the Hague Child Abduction Convention(1980) are in force in the United States.  Both are intended to harmonize disparate legal doctrines in countries with different systems.  And both are intended to provide certainty in the legal protection of children.

In U.S. practice, however, they function quite differently.

The Abduction Convention requires member states to establish procedures for returning a child to his or her country of habitual residence after being removed from that country or wrongfully retained in another country.  Pretty straightforward stuff there– imagine a little girl was born in Korea, but has spent her entire six-year life in Illinois.  Her mother decides to take her back to Korea– and stay there– without her father’s consent.  Korea would be obliged to return the child to the U.S. pursuant to a valid Hague request.  If a German mother sends her son to spend the Christmas holiday with the father in Vermont– but Dad refuses to let him go home to Germany, U.S. authorities should force the boy’s return.  Not a lot of gray area there, although courts occasionally go beyond this straightforward analysis (see here for Fox Rothschild’s excellent criticism of a Third Circuit decision that reached a proper result– but with far too deep an inquiry into best interest).

“Habitual residence” is a pretty straightforward question if plain meaning still carries any weight in statutory construction.  Where does the kid live– or put another way, where does he lay his head each night?  We must read in deeper questions, of course… where did Mom & Dad intend for him to live?  Where has he spent his life?  Has there been a certain event that evidences a change to that location?  Of course, it’s a fact-specific analysis, but the analysis isn’t extraordinarily difficult.

The Adoption Convention uses the same terminology to define what constitutes an “intercountry adoption”.  If a family in Australia seeks to adopt an orphan from Italy, then permission must be sought from the Italian government via a Hague request.  But if the child’s mother emigrates with her to Australia and puts her up for adoption several months later, no such permission is necessary.  The child’s habitual residence changes upon the mother’s entry into Australia, and the Italian Central Authority for the Adoption Convention would rightly scratch its head in wonder, declining to even respond to a Hague request sent by an Australian magistrate.

But that same child is not afforded the same consideration if the mother emigrates to the United States.  U.S. authorities (specifically, the State Department) define habitual residence in a decidedly odd way.  In virtually all cases, the child’s country of habitual residence is deemed to be the child’s country of birth.  A preposterous reading, given the plain meaning of the words.  And that is precisely the way the rest of the world views the United States: preposterous.

In an average state family court, this really isn’t a problematic question.  If a child is in Missouri, and his parents aren’t around to take care of him, he’s under the jurisdiction of Missouri courts– regardless of his national origin or citizenship.  His domicile is Missouri.  As such, if an aunt or uncle or cousin seeks to adopt him, it’s very unlikely that the state would object, and it’s even more unlikely that any of the lawyers involved would invoke the Hague Adoption Convention to slow down the procedure.  Congratulations, new parents, on your new son or daughter.

But when those new parents seek permanent resident status or citizenship for the child, they run into a buzzsaw– a very preposterous buzzsaw.  The Department of Homeland Security (parent organization of the various customs & immigration services) will undoubtedly invoke the Adoption Convention– and the State Department’s incredibly warped definition of habitual residence– to refute the validity of the adoption and, consequently, dash any hope that the child can become an American citizen.

Why is this?  I can only speculate, because the logic put forth in the State Department’s criteria offers little guidance (they say what the criteria are, not why those criteria exist).  But it isn’t hard to reach some very sad conclusions.

State Department photo.

Another “I get this question pretty regularly” post… and the answer is usually pretty good news, in comparison to a parent’s dreaded fear.

The question usually pops up in a listserv or at some bar function, but occasionally in a call from a lawyer who’s stumbled across this blog in a Google search:  “my client’s wife is threatening to leave him and take the kids back to (insert country name here)… what can I do?” 

Well, it depends on where the child is right now.  If she’s here, as indicated in your question, do everything you can to keep her here.  Set aside the threat to take her abroad, and focus on the threat to take her– anywhere.  Know too, though, that if it does happen, the situation may not be as grave as it seems.

In many cases, the inserted country name also happens to be on the list of countries who have implemented the Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction— known more commonly as the Hague Child Abduction Convention (HCAC).  While the treaty may not prevent a child being taken out of the country, it aims to provide a streamlined mechanism by which she can be returned home.  So even if the child is taken abroad against the remaining parent’s wishes, the odds are better that she can be returned.  I wrote previously  about the mechanism for return of children once they’ve been abducted– or as the treaty also addresses, taken with permission but not returned as agreed.   That earlier post came about in order to distinguish the Child Abduction Convention from the Hague Service Convention.

In short, I stressed that the way to secure the prompt return of the child is to get local law enforcement to engage HCAC channels, rather than pursuing a custody order in a U.S. court– and enduring all of the procedural delays that such a petition entails.  Instead of treading water while a Hague Service Request is processed, it’s far more effective to raise a HCAC claim.

What I didn’t point out, though, were the preventive measures  necessary to avoid the need for a HCAC claim in the first place.

My first question, when I spoke to the most recent colleague who sought assistance, was “does the kid have a passport?”

If he does, keep it in a secure place– or if the threatening parent has it, notify the police and get them to contact the State Department so the passport can be flagged.

Absent a passport, the threatening parent won’t get very far. Sure, if the child has dual citizenship, a foreign-born (abducting) parent might try to get the other country to issue one, but flags can still be raised with the country’s diplomatic legation and U.S. law enforcement.  Again, if there’s a credible threat of abduction, make a stink about it.  Make noise.  Put both countries’ authorities on notice in the most vocal way possible.

Above all else, petition the local court for a custody order immediately, with whatever form of injunctive relief is available in that jurisdiction, and serve the action before the other parent leaves the U.S., with or without the child.  The more clear the court’s intent, the easier it will be later to demonstrate an abductor’s wrong-doing to foreign authorities.