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What if child custody issues cross international borders?

As the world continues to become a more inter-connected global society, international marriages have become more common. However, an upsurge in international relationships and marriages also has resulted in an increase in international child custody disputes. If you have recently divorced from your partner and they have taken your children out of the country against your will, or you fear that they may do so, here is what you need to know to help protect your children and resolve issues.

The Hague Convention includes an international treaty covering story and child abduction. It covers children ages 16 years old and younger, but it is only applicable in jurisdictions that are members of the convention. The U.S. is a signatory to the treaty along with most European countries and other many nations in the Middle East, Africa and South America.

A simple principle in the Hague Convention states that moving to a new country does not give the fleeing parent or custodian any legal or practical advantage over the couple’s children. 

Therefore, if your spouse has abducted your child and you have proof that the child lived and attended school in the home country, here’s what you should know:

  • Consult a family law attorney with expertise in international child custody matters
  • Try coming to an agreement with your spouse for the return of your children before initiating court proceedings
  • Become familiar with the Hague Convention
  • If your spouse has not abducted your children, but is likely to do so, check if your state has adopted the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA). The act protects parents who are concerned about their spouses abducting their children.

Child custody cases are often emotionally draining and complicated. Sadly, adding an international element into the equation makes them even more complex. If you are in this situation, consult a professional attorney with expertise in this field for guidance.