International Child Custody
San Diego Custody Attorneys are here to help you

When parents live in different countries, or when one parent moves to another country after separation, difficult problems may arise in determining child custody and visitation. The first problem is jurisdiction, meaning which country has the judicial power to make orders for child custody. The second problem is enforcement.

Jurisdiction: Normally, the country in which the child has lived with a parent for the six months prior to the filing of a petition for child custody will have jurisdiction over custody. However, that basis for jurisdiction may be contested by the other parent with a claim that the child was removed without consent, or that the removal was intended to be only temporary. In those situations, there may be cases pending in two different countries, both claiming to have jurisdiction over child custody.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the primary means by which a parent can seek the return of a child from another country, provided that country is a party to the treaty. The purpose of the treaty is to ensure that a child who was living in one country that is a party to the Convention, and who has been removed to another Convention country in violation of the other parentís custodial rights, will be returned to the country. The purpose of the Convention is not to decide which parent will have custody, but to return a child to the country of "habitual residence."

International child abduction cases can turn into emotional and financial disasters for everyone involved, especially for the child, who is the innocent victim. A parent who is considering a request to allow the other parent to take a child to another country for an extended period of time should get good legal advice before agreeing to do so. Not all countries are parties to the Hague Child Abduction Convention; many countries which are parties have a poor record of enforcement.

Parents who live in different countries can share custody of a child, and enjoy time with the child without fear of an abduction, if the child custody and visitation orders are properly drafted.