International/Multi-State Child Custody Issues

In today’s society, everyone appears to be on the move, so it is not unusual for parents to relocate to another state or even another country. This trend, however, makes child custody issues more difficult to resolve.

International Child Custody & Abduction Laws

International child custody and abduction situations are usually handled using both state and federal regulations and international treaties. Within the U.S., the following laws may apply to cases involving children removed wrongfully across state and/or international lines:

    • The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
    • The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA)

Countries who are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (HCCAICA) will typically recognize U.S. court orders involving children moved within their borders.

What Is The Hague Convention?

In 1980, countries from across the globe signed an agreement designed to protect children abducted across international boundaries. Known as the Hague Convention, this treaty provides that participating nations will work to ensure the prompt return of children who were either:

    • Abducted from their home country or
    • Wrongfully retained in a contracting nation that is not their country of habitual residence.

The Convention, which only applies to children under the age of 16, was designed to preserve whatever custody arrangement existed prior to the wrongful removal and deter noncustodial parents from crossing international borders to seek a more favorable custody arrangement.

International Relocation/International Move Away Cases

A relocation, or move-away case is when a parent, usually the one with managing conservatorship of their child, seeks to move out of the country. These cases are among the most complicated of all family law matters, so whether you are a custodial parent wanting to relocate or a noncustodial parent trying to prevent their children from moving away, your next steps should only be undertaken with the guidance of an experience international relocation attorney.

How Do Courts Determine Whether To Allow International Relocation?

When deciding whether to allow a child’s relocation to a foreign country, Texas family law courts will try to determine what outcome is in the best interests of the child. In addition to the considerations made in domestic relocations, the court may also review:

    • The destination country’s cultural practices and conditions
    • Possible visitation problems for the noncustodial parent
    • The extent to which the destination country would respect or enforce the noncustodial parent’s access or visitation rights
    • Whether or not the country is a signatory to the Hague Convention

Parents who want to move out of the country or prevent such a move to maintain access to their children should work with an international relocation attorney who can help them protect their parental rights.

Federal Child Custody & Abduction Laws

Federal child custody and abduction laws include:

    • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act: This statute determines which state will have jurisdiction in a custody dispute involving a cross-border relocation. It also enforces the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act if the noncustodial parent abducts the children.
    • Uniform Interstate Family Support Act: The UIFSA extends a state’s jurisdiction over a parent who owes child support even if that parent does not reside there.
    • Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act: This federal law ensures that all states uphold custody orders entered in other states. It applies when one parent takes their child out of state in violation of an order issued in that state.

Which State Or Country Will My Multi-State Or International Child Custody Dispute Be Handled In?

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act assigns jurisdiction to whichever state or country is the child’s ‘home state’, which is defined as the state (or country) in which the child lived with their parent or legal guardian for at least six months before the custody proceedings. (For infants, this may be the state where they were born.)

When an international custody case involves the Hague Convention, the goal is to return abducted children to their country of ‘habitual residence’, which is the presumed forum for resolving custody disputes.

The Family Law Attorneys At The Wright Firm, LLP, Are Here To Help

If you are involved in a custody disagreement and the children’s other parent wants to move out of state or even out of the country, it can create complicated jurisdictional issues that involve state, federal, and/or international laws.

For this reason, it is crucial that you work with a Dallas child custody attorney with the background and experience needed to handle a multi-jurisdictional case. At the Wright Firm, LLP, our child custody attorneys will help you protect your interests across state and even international lines. Contact us today by filling out our online form or calling (877) 353-4600.