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When child custody disputes go international

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2020 | Child Custody

Child custody disputes are rarely easy. Some of the most difficult involve international complications.

For the most part, state law controls child custody issues. If two Texas parents have a child custody arrangement and one parent wants to move to another state with the child, the other parent can go to court to object to the relocation. The moving parent would then have to convince the court that the relocation is in the child’s best interests. Even then, the parent remaining in Texas would still have legal rights as a parent. The child custody arrangement would carry on across state lines, with the laws of both states involved.

When the laws of two countries apply

Things get much trickier when a parent wants to move with a child to another country. In these cases, the laws of two nations are involved.

The most important treaty in international child custody cases is known as the Hague Convention. The treaty covers a range of issues, and provides a framework allowing the courts of different nations to coordinate legal matters concerning the custody of children. Parts of the treaty deal with international adoption. Other parts deal with international abduction.

We often think of child abduction as something perpetrated by strangers, but in fact most child abduction involves family members who take a child away from someone with rightful custody. These are extraordinary cases, and involve issues in both family law and criminal law. The Hague Convention provides a way for the legal systems of different countries to coordinate their efforts and enforce parental rights across national boundaries. However, many countries are not signatories to the treaty, making abduction to these countries extraordinarily complicated.