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Child Custody, Jurisdiction and the Hague Convention in international custody cases

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2023 | Family and Divorce Law

Child Custody and Jurisdiction

  • Filing for child custody can be relatively straightforward and is generally based on where the child(ren) has been living for the six months before custody proceedings.
  • If you and your child(ren) recently moved to a new state, or have been living in another country, then you may not be able to file for custody in that new state or country until you have lived there for at least six months.
  • If there is a prior court order for custody, you may have to file in that same court for future custody issues unless both parents and children have resided outside the original court of jurisdiction for more than 6 months.
  • If there is more than one state and or country involved – for example, if the child has moved across state lines, or lives in another country, or if the other parent is in a different state or country – then custody will be more complicated if parents are unable to agree.

In Hawaii and throughout the world, society is increasingly globalized with people meeting other people from different countries with greater regularity. The ease of travel and communication makes it likelier that relationships will blossom. With that, children will be born to parents from those different countries.

If the relationship does not work out and a person returns to their country of origin, custody and visitation can be problematic. In some instances, it is contentious, and a parent will try to leave the United States and bring the child with them. They might have the child for a defined period of time and choose not to return them as they were expected to.

Obviously, this can present a unique set of worries that people need to navigate. Having advice is fundamental to being protected. One aspect that should be known is how the Hague Convention factors in with child custody.

Understanding the Hague Convention with international custody cases

Technically referred to as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, the agreement is in place to ensure children who were removed from a country be returned as soon as possible.

Countries that are part of the agreement are required to return the child to their residential country when they have been wrongfully removed or are not returned as they should have been. If, for example, a parent from another country received visitation with the child, was supposed to send them back by a certain date and does not do so, the U.S.-based parent can use this agreement to have the child returned.

Because every country has its own custody laws, the application of the Hague Convention will largely be based on that. There could be a custody and visitation agreement in place whether through the courts or people formulating it on their own. Each country will have its own way of interpreting the law and the validity of the agreement. Parental rights frequently hinge on presumption of parenthood, if the parents were married at the time of the child’s birth and how countries assess these issues.

With international custody cases, having prompt and quality advice is key

Since these cases differ from conventional custody cases in Hawaii and across the nation, it is important to have advice and guidance that is specific to the situation. It is not necessarily a contentious matter. The sides could simply have different views and obstacles to making the custody and visitation case work out adequately for both parents. Still, there may be significant dispute and hard feelings on both sides.

Such cases combine family law with immigration law. To reach a positive outcome, it is wise to have help that specializes in these areas of the law. That includes understanding the Hague Convention and how it addresses these difficult circumstances.

Contacting caring, trustworthy and experienced professionals who understand family and divorce law, immigration law and are aware of the innate challenges of international custody cases can ease a person’s mind as they set out to ensure the child’s best interests are served and a positive outcome is achieved. Calling for a consultation and help is crucial and should be done as soon as possible to assess the case and take the necessary steps forward.