International custody agreements are made all of the time. Sometimes between parents. Sometimes between countries. And in a few instances, between countries and individual U.S. states. Mexico recently signed an agreement with the state of Utah to update the consulate’s role in assisting parental custody cases for children with Mexican citizenship.
The Utah – Mexico Agreement
As the Deseret News reports, Javier Chagoya, the consul of Mexico in Salt Lake, was joined for a signing ceremony by Ann Williamson, executive director of the Department of Human Services. Williamson lauded the agreement as an important step “to advance our shared commitment to children and families thriving safely in their homes, schools and communities.”
The problem the agreement tries to resolve in the United States is the problem with the separation of family members due to immigration issues. The agreement allows the Mexican consulate to assist Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services to get documentation from Mexico for a child’s application for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status in the United States.
The Special Immigrant Juveniles program is designed to assist foreign children in the U.S. “who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected,” according to information posted online by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In that program, undocumented immigrant minors who fall under that category, and who are unable to be assigned to the custody of a parent, relative or qualifying guardian in their home country, can qualify for permanent residency in the United States.
International Custody Agreements
In addition to the Utah-Mexico agreement, there are various laws and statues which can protect you and your children – and possibly help you resolve an international custody battle – quickly and safely.
The Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, also known as The Hague Convention, for instance, is an international treaty to protect children from international abductions by requiring their prompt return to their habitual residence.
Utah, and 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.
In addition to the Utah-Mexico agreement, and international treaties, it is important to understand that various countries can have religious courts which can drive the outcome of your case.
Mexican American Children
The parental custody cases of immigrant children from Mexico are frequently complicated by the fact that their parents have been deported, face deportation or have otherwise relocated back to their home country for a variety of different reasons.
Sometimes it’s best for those children to be placed with other close relatives in Mexico, and other times the most positive outcome for them is to remain in the United States. The agreement helps to avoid the problem of child custody cases languishing in uncertainty.
Under the new agreement, the Department and the Consulate meet once per year to evaluate the cooperation between their staffs, and outlines the duty of case workers to notify the consulate of any child placed in state custody who has at least one parent living in Mexico.
The Deseret News article is here.