According to the U.S. Census Bureau, international marriages are rising. Child custody issues are complex under normal circumstances. If the parents move to different countries, those interstate custody problems can multiply.
The U.S. Census Bureau report on the increase in international marriages is not really a surprise given our increasingly mobile and global society. The uptick in cross-border relationships has also led to an increase in international child custody disputes.
International & Interstate Custody
I’ve written about international and interstate custody cases before. You may find yourself in this situation right now, or you fear that your ex partner or soon to be ex could take your children out of the country against your will.
There are various laws and statues you should know about which can protect you and your children, and possibly help you resolve an international custody battle quickly and safely.
Consult a family law attorney with experience resolving international child custody cases. He or she will be able to represent your interests across international borders and help to ensure fair and timely court proceedings.
In some cases, an experienced attorney can also help determine where your ex currently lives and proactively negotiate to secure the prompt, voluntary, and safe return of your children.
The Hague Convention
Become familiar with the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, also known as the Hague Convention. This international treaty exists to protect children from international abductions by requiring their prompt return to their habitual residence.
The Hague Convention applies only in jurisdictions that have signed the convention, and its reach is limited to children ages 16 and under. Essentially, the Hague Convention helps families more quickly revert back to the “status quo” child custody arrangement before an unlawful child abduction.
If your ex has taken your children out of the country against your will, the Hague Convention can help you get them back as it is best used as a “return mechanism” to take wrongfully abducted or retained children.
Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act
Most U.S. states, including Florida, have adopted the UCAPA. The UCAPA offers protections to parents who are concerned about the possibility of custody-related parental abduction. If you already have a child custody order in place, or you have a custody hearing coming up, you may be able to file a petition under the UCAPA to address your specific concerns.
There are several risk factors that you should be aware of to determine if there should be put in place prevention measures for abduction. Prevention measures can include things like: orders not to remove a child from the court’s jurisdiction and the ability to require a bond or other security as a deterrent to abduction.
In addition to the local and international treaties and laws, it is important to understand the cultural and/or religious beliefs that could impact your case. Countries can have religious courts, and customs, which can drive the outcome of your case.
For example, some international jurisdictions may have a preference for granting sole physical custody mothers. However, judges in other countries are required to always grant custody to fathers. Knowing about these issues up front can help you more effectively prepare for your case.
Florida law currently provides some preventative measures to deter domestic and international child abductions once a custody proceeding has begun, or there is a court order regarding custody or visitation.
The U.S. Census article is here.