How do international child custody disputes work?

Child custody agreements can be hard enough to work out when you are both from the U.S. Yet, if one of you is not, and wants to return to their country, what happens to the kids?

 If you fear your child’s other parent may try to take them out of the country, you can apply for a temporary court order to stop them. You will need to provide evidence to back up your claims. For example, they have bought tickets, cleaned out their flat, or said they are leaving in an email.

If you wish to stop them from leaving with your children long term, filing sole custody may be best. Remember, judges prefer that both parents play a role in their child’s life, so they need a compelling reason to give sole custody. 

What about if it is too late and your children are no longer in the country? If the other parent has taken the children to another country, without your permission, they may be guilty of international child abduction. There is an international convention to guide how these cases are dealt with called the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The treaty ensures that almost 100 countries work together to stop parents from disappearing with their children, find the children and return them if it occurs.

Under the Hague Convention, disputes need to be settled where the child naturally resides. So, if your child grew up in Texas, any dispute should be settled there. Not all countries are signed up to the treaty, however. Even if they are, determining international child custody is a complex subject requiring specialized legal representation.

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