International Custody Issues
It is a common occurrence in today’s mobile society for people from different countries to marry. Often people in the military marry a person from abroad, who then relocates to the U.S., or somebody who is working for a large corporation abroad marries a foreign national who then relocates to the U.S.
When these couples divorce, if there are minor children, relocation to another country becomes a significant issue. Unfortunately, situations often arise when a parent removes a child from the U.S. and then attempts to litigate the child custody case abroad.
There are international treaties that deal with child abduction and govern what countries have jurisdiction and under what circumstances. The first determination in an international custody case will be whether the non-U.S. country is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
This treaty controls the procedures that must be followed when a child has been abducted and taken to a foreign country. Under the Hague Convention, a petition for the return of the child must be filed. There are procedures that determine in which country your lawyer will file the petition. In the U.S., there is also an election as to whether to file in the domestic relations court or in federal court. These are complicated decisions that require significant analysis. These cases also generally require working with counsel abroad.
In cases involving non-Hague countries, it is important to protect against the child being removed to that country and specific restrictions and prohibitions need to be put into place to avoid such an occurrence. Handling international custody cases requires an understanding of international law, international procedure and some substantive law of other countries. Even if the other country is a signatory to the Hague Convention, this does not mean that the law will be followed and the child returned. These cases are complicated, lengthy and expensive.
At Phyllis G. Bossin Co., L.P.A., our attorneys have significant experience in dealing with international custody issues, including cases involving countries in South America and the Middle East.