International Child Custody and Abduction

Transnational or intercultural marriage is more prevailing; thus, it is common that parents have different nationality and reside in different places. However, when the marriage of a transnational couple comes to be unstable and inclines to rupture, this may result in the relocation of a child with a parent. As a result, during the time of separation or after divorce, both parties may try to snatch the child and live in another country or retain the child’s country of habitual residence. Moreover, this kind of situation does not solely happen in transnational marriage, but also in domestic or interstate marriage.
 
There are two types of parental abduction. The first type is that one parent may want to bring their child away from the other parent and move to another country or state without consent. The second type is that one side is preventing the child to travel with the other side and trying to retain the child.
 
What if my child has already left his/her country of habitual residence with the co-parent without my permission?
If your ex-spouse has removed your child to other state within the U.S. border, a court determines the child custody according to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). UCCJEA has been adopted by 49 U.S. States (the exception is Massachusetts), the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s principles ensure that the child is returned to his/her home state, which refers to the place that the child was born if he/she is less than six months old or has been living in a state for six months. It also assures that the welfare of the child is not threatened.
 
On the other hand, if your ex-spouse has moved out of the States with your child without your consent, you may turn to the Hague Convention for protecting your abducted child and seeking its international procedure to return your child. Under the Hague Convention, a party has an obligation to return the child to his/her habitual place of residence. It requires its signatory countries to assist, cooperate and enforce the lawful progress of returning the child. However, if the child is removed to a non-signatory country, this child custody dispute can be more complicated and depend on the legal system of that country.
 
International child abduction is a complex jurisdictional procedure, and it is important to have professionals who specialize in child custody and international family law to assist you. Therefore, if you are suspecting that your child may be remove or has been removed, please seek for legal advice from your local attorney.

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