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Maryland Judge Addresses International Law Conference in South America


(ANNAPOLIS, Md. – July 25, 2016) – The Maryland Judiciary was represented at an international law conference in South America this month. Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Cathy Hollenberg Serrette took part in the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) in Guyana. The two-day conference, held July 13-15, focused on international family law, legal cooperation, and commerce.

Judge Serrette, who is the coordinating judge for the Prince George’s County Circuit Court’s family division, discussed the practical applications of the Hague Child Abduction Convention, a long-standing treaty developed by the HCCH that focuses on parental abduction of children across national borders. The convention provides processes to expedite the return of a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.

“The point of the convention is not to establish custody, but rather to get children who have been wrongfully removed back to their habitual residence where a custody case may be held,” Judge Serrette told conference delegates. “The language of the Hague convention provides mechanisms for getting children back to their residence and protecting their best interests.”

The Hague Conference on Private International Law was attended by attorneys general, judges, bar association members, and professionals from child welfare organizations from throughout South America and the Caribbean, including Curaçao, Aruba, Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands, Brazil, Argentina, and Guyana. The HCCH, a leader in the area of private international law, was formed in 1893 to “work for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law.”

Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera approved Judge Serrette to attend the conference.  “I am pleased that Judge Serrette was able to represent the Maryland Judiciary at this important event to help clarify and facilitate the practical applications of the Hague Child Abduction Convention, better protect the interests of children, and encourage cooperation and understanding among international justice stakeholders,” Chief Judge Barbera said.

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