International Child Custody Dispute

There aren’t many aspects of a divorce as unwelcome as a child custody dispute. Take the dispute across international borders and you have a highly complex divorce case. Multiple laws from more than one country can impact international child custody disputes. Documents of travel are required, as well as many other stipulations. Always retain an attorney for these complicated and difficult divorce proceedings. A lawyer can walk you through the process and provide assistance every step of the way.

The Nature of Complex Custody Disputes

Child custody, parenting time, and visitation are matters you will have to consider if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have a child together. In the simplest custody cases, both parents prepare a parenting plan they agree on and a judge signs off on it. If you and your spouse can’t agree on child-related matters, a judge will make the decision for you. In the event of one spouse and the child being in a different country, the case is more complex.

Within the United States, state courts use uniform laws when deciding interstate custody disputes. A state doesn’t have to use these laws unless the state’s legislature has specifically enacted them within the state. There are also federal laws that affect custody disputes with parents living in different states. For example, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act bans parents from kidnapping children and taking them across state borders.

If your spouse took your child across national borders without your permission, you have a serious issue on your hands. You need a lawyer who has dealt with related cases right away. The good news is that most custody laws say a parent cannot gain any legal advantage by taking the child to a new country. If your spouse has moved, a judge will analyze his or her reason for relocating, how far away the person moved, and the conditions in the new country. There are laws that ensure the custody battle will ensue in the country in which the child has been living (before the move).

How to Help Your Custody Dispute

As a parent in the midst of an international child custody battle, there are things you can do to help your case. The first is to keep or obtain all documents relating to your child’s move out of the country. There should be documents such as passport applications and customs papers tracking your child’s movement out of the country. If you gave your permission to your spouse to take the child out of the country, or if your spouse gave you permission to do the same, keep copies of written agreements stating so. As soon as you suspect that someone took your child out of the country without your permission, alert the authorities and contact a lawyer.

Learning which court to take your case is another issue in international cases. In most cases, the court that has personal jurisdiction over the child is the one that will make custody decisions. This is the court with which the parents and child have a connection based on location. If the move to a new country is recent, this will likely be the location the child grew up in, not the new country. Otherwise, the filing spouse may have to wait a period of time to qualify to file in the new place. Many factors will affect the outcome of your international custody dispute. The best way to safeguard your child is to retain a good divorce attorney.