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Judicial bench guides – the case of Minnesota do they help or hinder the evolution of the Hague convention to address domestic violence

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Judicial bench guides, extensive case-specific documents that outline how judges should accept, interpret and make decisions are a hidden, but critical part, of the American justice system. Bench guides aren’t just informing judges about the particulars of a given type of law or process. By their very nature, they are also a type of power – they influence and guide judges to act and judge a certain way. As such, they have a large, but hidden, influence in the way that cases are actually decided. The role that bench guides play in the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction has become increasingly critical over the past two decades as two different forces have emerged: a clear awareness by the global community that the Hague Convention can be an instrument that perpetuates international domestic violence, and a resistance, by an almost entirely male dominated ruling class (the vast majority of politicians and elected and non-elected leaders of countries that are party to the Hague Convention are male), to change the Hague Convention. This leaves Bench Guides, at least in the United States, as one of few potential tools of power to alter the Hague Convention in practice. It is critical to scholars to understand whether or not Judicial Bench Guides actually do that – do they, in fact, help or hinder the way in which the Hague Convention addresses domestic violence?


: Hague convention, domestic violence, article 13(b), grave risk of harm, habitual residence, judicial bench guides, Hague convention and custody, custody rights & domestic violence, gender and domestic violence, mother’s rights and domestic violence