International Child Custody

International Child Custody

International child custody battles can be grueling, time consuming, and expensive.  Even in cases in which both parents want to “play by the rules” and act in the best interest of the children, you may incur significant upfront court costs and fees. Plus, you may have to invest time and money familiarizing yourself with the child custody laws of two (or more) countries.
Furthermore, you may not speak the language of the foreign country or countries, and you may not have the finances to make multiple trips abroad or even the resources to locate and communicate with your spouse.  In some cases, a parent may actually “kidnap” a child or prevent a child’s return to you.  If that happens, you may have some legal recourse – for instance, the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction can help you force your spouse to return the kidnapped child to you.  But even if you employ the Hague Convention to good effect, you still have to invest resources and emotional energy.

Mistakes Are Easy to Make

When you engage in a heated international child custody battle, it’s easy to make small, seemingly harmless errors of judgment or process that can have devastating results.  For instance, say you miss a filing deadline for a piece of foreign paperwork or you accidentally misread some obscure provision of a foreign law. This meaningless mistake can cost you dearly. For instance, you could lose out on visitation or custody rights. Or you might lose leverage to hold your spouse accountable for unethical practices.  On a more mundane but no less irritating note, you may have to return to a foreign country at your own expense to fill out new forms in person. 
In other words, even if you are in the best state of mind, and even if you have a clear understanding of the applicable international law, you could face some seriously tricky situations. What’s more, many U.S. family law attorneys -- even those who do work on international child custody cases -- may not have the experience, multilingual staff, and credentials to help you deal with complicated overseas custody cases.  So how should you best proceed to protect your children’s rights as well as your rights as a parent?

A Timely Resource for Concerned Parents

Family Law International is a global consortium of attorneys.  Unlike traditional domestic family law firms, we specialize specifically in dealing with the nuances of things like international child custody disputes.  Our lawyers understand conflict resolution, litigation, strategic planning, and immigration.  We have an excellent track record, a multilingual, highly credentialed team, and a peerless reputation in the international law industry.  If you would like a confidential consultation about your international child custody case, reach out to our team at 303-323-1938.  Feel free to email us at any time at info@familylawint.com.

Legal Recourse in International Custody Battles

As we discussed above, the 1980 Hague Convention, which boasts 50 plus signatory countries, gives so called “left behind” parents recourse to obtain or re-obtain custody of abducted children.  Although this resource can help you resolve problems like parental abduction or kidnapping, the road to resolution can be bumpy and long.  In addition, the spouse who has taken the child can attempt to thwart your efforts through various tactics and strategies.  For instance, the spouse can try to turn your child against you; argue that you’ve been abusive and thus should not regain custody; employ unethical tactics to prevent repatriation of a kidnapped child; or even flee the foreign country to a second (or third) foreign country to elude capture and make your work harder and more tedious.  All that said, a seasoned legal consortium can advocate for you, help stop unethical behavior in its tracks, and put the Hague Convention to work for you.

Recourse for Parents in Non-Hague Convention Countries

What happens if your ex abducts your child to a country that’s not a signatory to the Hague Convention?  Here, the situation can get even more complicated.  In some cases, good legal work may be able to compel results.  In other cases, a parent may aim to leverage political connections to get results.  In still other cases, your options, frankly, can be quite limited. If an ex-spouse has abducted (or has threatened to abduct) your child, you have no doubt read horror stories in the media about left behind parents being denied basic rights and justice.  Again, your best strategy is to keep things simple and professional. Don’t let your frustrations lead you to employing unethical tactics. Instead, retain a team of top caliber international attorneys to develop a roadmap for how to protect your children and fight for custody.

After all, you seek to reunite your family, cultivate lasting positive relationships with your children, and minimize potential future hostilities with your ex spouse or ex partner. If you aggravate the situation by trying tricks of your own, not only could you get into legal trouble, but you could also damage your relationship with the child you aim to protect and cherish. Remember: you can find ethical options to get fair results in your custody battle.

Some Typical Problems You Might Encounter – And How to Deal With Them

One of the biggest challenges for parents fighting international child custody battles is how to sustain the fight.  How do you come up with the money, resources, time, and emotional stamina to get through the ups and downs and finally get results? Obviously, it’s critical to have a strong social support network.  Now is the time to lean on friends and family and moral leaders in your community for guidance.  Be mindful about which resources you choose.  If you retain a domestic family law attorney who has never handled an international custody case, you may not get the best results.
Expect ups and downs.  Just because you win a positive outcome in a U.S. divorce court does not guarantee that your ex spouse won’t manage to thwart you in a foreign court and extend the custody battle.  Strive to maintain an even keel in the face of these changes of fortune.

You may have to navigate a foreign court system. This can be tricky even if you speak the language and understand the customs and mores of that society. In truth, it can be exhausting and confusing to engage in an international legal dispute.  Although it’s always a good idea to be proactive, try not to take on too many tasks yourself.  There is no need to be a martyr and voluntarily endure extra stress. Instead of taking a crash course in a foreign country’s obscure custody laws, for instance, outsource the task. Find a respected, credentialed attorney who understands the applicable laws well and who can protect your rights and guide you as to the best
steps to take.

Keep yourself occupied with other important, worthwhile tasks. If you become too single-minded about your custody battle, you could wind up obsessed and depressed without necessarily contributing positively to your cause. Remember also that custody arrangements can change, as can your relationship with your estranged spouse or partner. For instance, say your partner has engaged in some nasty behavior recently. For instance, maybe he took your child away for a two-week trip in his native country without notifying you, and you initially suspected he kidnapped the child. This action brought your custody battle to the boiling point, and now both of you are seeking serious legal representation and girding for a big long fight. Despite the acrimony of your current situation, your relationship could change and resolve for the better over the long term. In other words, you may feel helpless, overwhelmed, angry and confused now. But realize that you likely will not feel these feelings forever. Your road back to relaxed control begins with getting experienced, credentialed help to plan an approach your custody situation.