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Texas father struggles to be heard in international custody case

Child custody cases in which two parents disagree on where to raise their children are quite common in Texas, but when these disputes involve parents who live extreme distances apart, the non-custodial parent is often left feeling desperate and out of control. And even though more fathers are gaining custody these days, more often children end up living with their mothers.

International child custody cases can be particularly trying for fathers who are non-custodial parents. Not only does the long distance make visitation difficult and in some cases impossible, but courts in other countries operate under different laws that parents may not understand. If the parent taking care of the child is a resident or native of that country, the courts may also favor that parent. Furthermore, courts in other countries may decide that the mother is a more appropriate single parent for a child.

A Plano, Texas, father is currently in such a struggle with the mother of his 3-year-old daughter. The girl has been living with her mother, a native of England, since 2009, and so far the father's attempts to change that and bring his daughter home to Texas have been unsuccessful.

A court in the United Kindom ruled in December 2010 that England was the toddler's habitual residence, and that the family had moved there in 2009, intending to stay there. Shortly after the couple broke up, the father filed for custody in early 2010 and said his daughter was living there without his permission.

But the girl's father denies the family ever intended to live in the UK permanently. At a hearing in Dallas contesting the British court's ruling, his attorney claimed the mother had committed fraud by obtaining a British passport for the girl without telling the father, and without turning over the toddler's American passport. Doing so likely influenced the British court's decision regarding the girl's residence.

International custody battles like this one can leave fathers at an unfair disadvantage, both legally and geographically. Their best recourse may be a consultation with a family law attorney with experience in international disputes. Even if their child is thousands of miles away, a satisfactory resolution may be just around the corner.

Source: Star Local News, "Fighting for Alessia: Plano father continues court case to bring daughter back to Texas," Bill Conrad, Sept. 21, 2012

· Our firm seeks to protect fathers' rights and has experience in international child custody cases. To learn more about our practice, visit our Dallas family law website.

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