If you have minor children and are in the midst of a divorce or a child custody battle with a parent who lives in another country, you may face a whole different set of issues.
Not only do you have to find a way to establish jurisdiction for your child’s custody in your home state pursuant to the UCCJEA (see the first blog in this month’s series for more information on how this is done), but you also face the additional risk that whatever a U.S. court might order, another country may or may not recognize that order.
This is especially scary if a U.S. court gives you custody of your child, but your child’s non-custodial parent takes your child out of the country. I can’t imagine a worse nightmare for a parent than knowing that your child is out of reach and there’s nothing you can do to get your child back.
Child Custody & The Hague Convention
To resolve the problem of international child abductions during domestic disputes, the U.S. and almost 100 other countries have ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Convention”). The Hague Convention aims to protect children from international abduction by a parent by encouraging the prompt return of the children back to their country of habitual residence.
The Hague Convention has put into place mechanisms for the prompt return of abducted children. After a parent files a Hague application for the return of the child, the country to which the child has been wrongfully taken must locate the child and return the child to the country of the child’s habitual residence.
However, in order for the protection against child abduction afforded by the Hague Convention to apply, both the country of the child’s habitual residence and the country to which the child was wrongfully taken must be parties to the Hague Convention. There are a myriad of additional issues to be considered and potential safeguards to put into place in any child custody proceeding when one parent lives in a county that is not part of and has not ratified the Hague Convention.
If you are facing a custody battle with a former spouse who resides in a different country and would like to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at (480) 994-8824 to schedule your free 30-minute legal consultation.