Resolving International Custody Disputes

If you’re a divorcing or separating parent, your child’s well-being probably matters most to you, and it may also seem to be the thing that’s most fragile.

This worry might be worse when the other parent will live in another country.

Try to come to an agreement

Resolving your dispute without taking the other parent to court is usually best. It’s often faster, less expensive, and might be less stressful for the child as well as both parents.

Still, child custody is so emotional that having to “be nice” or “act like an adult” is lot to expect from one person, much less two.

You could consider whether mediation or arbitration could be an option, although whether arbitration is possible strongly depends on your specific circumstances.

Knowing which laws apply

If both parents and all the children are in the United States, the state or federal courts are probably best for your divorce proceedings.

Adults and children alike need passports to leave the country, and U.S. courts can consider and enforce issues like permission to relocate or travel as well as visitation rights.

But if someone intends to leave the U.S. permanently, settling custody questions in the country where the children are expected to usually live may be best.

Here again, your options will strongly depend on your circumstances.

Your child overseas without your consent

If your spouse has left the country with your child without your consent, your child can usually be said to be abducted.

There are two broad circumstances for international abductions.

In one, your child is in a country that has signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

This treaty protects the rights of children by encouraging their return to their usual home country. It aims to put decisions within the right court in the right country.

If your child is in a countries that not signed the Hague Convention, that country is very likely to still have relevant and applicable laws, and they may even be based on the Hague Convention. Other forms of leverage can sometimes also be used to affect the outcome of your case.

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The Law Offices of Stacy D. Heard, PLLC

Stacy Heard is an accomplished and well-respected family law attorney in Seattle, Washington who has served clients for over 20 years. Stacy specializes in matrimonial and family law. She handles matters of divorce, high-conflict parenting plan/child custody issues, international custody disputes and Hague Convention cases, complex financial issues, relocation, restraining orders, child support, and modifications of Parenting Plans and Child Support Orders.