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International Child Custody
Country-by-Country Information About Child Abduction and Divorce
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Guatemala: Family Law

From the State Department's 2016 Compliance Report

Guatemala demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance in 2015 because:

          -The Foreign Central Authority regularly failed to fulfill its responsibilities pursuant to the Convention; and

          -Law enforcement authorities regularly failed to locate children or enforce return orders or determinations of rights of access rendered by the judicial authorities.

The Convention is in force between the United States and Guatemala.

To improve the resolution of abduction cases in Guatemala, the Department recommends that the United States:

          -Promote training with judicial and administrative authorities on the effective handling of international parental child abduction cases;

          -Promote training with law enforcement entities on how to effectively locate children and enforce court-ordered returns;

          -Through embassy public affairs and consular sections, promote the resolution of international parental child abduction cases with public diplomacy and outreach activities;

          -Hold bilateral meetings with Guatemalan government officials to encourage Guatemala to comply with its obligations under the Convention; and

          -Intensify engagement with the Guatemalan Central Authority for updates on international parental child abduction cases and to promote prompt case processing.

Guatemela's relevant statistics regarding Abduction & Access cases can be seen below:

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Guatemala and Child Abduction: The 2013 & 2014 State Department Reports

Report to Congress on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction:

The U.S. Department of State (Department), Office of Children's Issues (CA/OCS/CI), U.S. Central Authority (USCA) under the 1980 Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Convention), hereby submits, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 11611, this report on Convention compliance, covering the period from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012. The USCA is submitting this report to the House Appropriations Committee; the Senate Appropriations Committee; the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs; the Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs; the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

2013 Report:

Not Compliant with the Convention: Guatemala

Guatemala demonstrated non-compliance with the Convention in the areas of central authority and judicial performance. We continue to observe considerable delays in the processing of cases, both in the submission of Convention applications to courts as well as courts' adjudication of Convention cases. We also remain concerned about the timeliness of the Guatemalan Central Authority's (GCA) responses to the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) and left-behind parent requests for information on outgoing abduction cases from the United States to Guatemala. One of the reasons for the delays in the processing of cases and the untimely responses appears to be poor coordination between the main GCA office in Guatemala City and its regional offices.

Along with delays and failures to set court hearings, we have also seen inconsistent application of Convention principles by Guatemalan courts. For example, in January 2012, the GCA reported that a Guatemalan appellate court upheld a lower court Convention ruling denying return because Guatemalan law favors maternal custody. The GCA was unable to provide the court order in the above case despite USCA requests; USCA information regarding the grounds for the decision is based on the GCA's description of the ruling.

Case Summaries: Guatemala

1.  In July 2011, the Guatemalan Central Authority (GCA) notified the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) that the case was sent to the Supreme Court of Justice to determine jurisdiction. In December 2011, the GCA stated that case was assigned to the Children's Court in Mixco, but no hearing date was established. The USCA and U.S. Embassy Guatemala City have regularly requested updates from the GCA on the status of the court proceedings.

2.  The U.S. Central Authority (USCA) was notified in July 2011 that the case had been sent to the Supreme Court of Justice to determine jurisdiction. In September 2011, the case was assigned to the Children's Court of Huehuetenango and the taking parent (TP) failed to appear at the scheduled hearings. The Guatemalan Central Authority (GCA) requested that the children be taken from the TP out of concern for their welfare. In February 2012, the GCA reported that the children appeared to have been taken to Mexico by the TP. In September 2012, the GCA notified the USCA it was exploring whether to transfer the case to the Mexican Central Authority (MCA), based on the repeated movements of the TP across the Guatemalan-Mexican border. In December 2012 ,the GCA confirmed it planned to transfer the case to the MCA.

3.  The first court date was scheduled in April 2011, but the taking parent (TP) could not be served notice because the TP was apparently working in Mexico. After learning that the children appeared to be living with someone other than the TP, in March 2012, the Guatemalan Central Authority (GCA) requested that the court secure the children in protective custody and schedule an expedited Convention hearing. In April 2012, the court clerk and the police searched for but failed to locate the children. In July 2012, the U.S. Central Authority was informed by the GCA that the TP had fled with the children to Mexico. In December 2012, the GCA confirmed it planned to transfer the case to the Mexican Central Authority.

2014 Report:

Not Compliant with the Convention: Guatemala

Guatemala demonstrated non-compliance with the Hague Convention in the areas of judicial and central authority performance. The U.S. Central Authority (USCA) continues to be concerned about the performance of the Guatemalan Central Authority (GCA) and Guatemalan courts in their handling of Hague Convention cases. The USCA observes considerable delays within the GCA in the processing of cases, both in failing to respond to USCA requests for information and delays in the GCA's submission of Hague applications to courts. Frequent turnover in personnel and limited coordination mar the relationship between the main GCA office in Guatemala City and its regional offices, causing delays in case processing. Guatemalan courts also process cases very slowly, causing significant delays in all active cases. In addition to delays and a failure to set court hearings, courts have not provided copies of decisions and the GCA has been unable to obtain them.

Case Summaries: Guatemala

1.  In March 2012, the Guatemalan Central Authority (GCA) obtained information on the children's possible location and requested that the court secure the children in protective custody and schedule an expedited Hague hearing. In April 2012, the court clerk and the police searched for, but failed to locate the children. In July 2012, the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) was informed by the GCA that the taking parent fled with the children to Mexico and that they would transfer the case to the Mexican Central Authority. In May 2013, the left-behind parent (LBP) informed the USCA that a Hague hearing was held in April 2013 and the judge denied the Hague return because the LBP did not have a representative at the court. The USCA requested a copy of the order, but the GCA has not provided a copy.

2.  In April 2012, the Guatemalan Central Authority (GCA) confirmed receipt of the Hague application, but stated it would be unable to forward the case to court until the child was located. In September 2012, the GCA notified the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) that the Hague case was sent to the court, and in October 2012, the hearing was held and the judge ordered a return. The taking parent immediately appealed the decision and according to the GCA, the return order was reversed by the appellate court. The USCA requested a copy of the appellate court order and the date of the ruling but the GCA has not provided a copy of the order or further information. 

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