What should you do if your child is taken by a parent to a foreign country? What happens if one parent violates child custody orders and takes a child or your children across the border? How do you get your children back and what action should you take?
Most international child custody cases involving a California Family Law Court and a foreign sovereign nation are handled under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act or UCCJEA. There is an international treaty commonly referred to as the “Hague Convention” that deals with these cases. The central question is whether or not the country where your child(ren) now resides is a member of the Hague Convention treaty.
If the country where the children now reside is a signor of the Hague Convention treaty then recovery of your children, though quite legally complicated, is a distinct possibility. If the Country of residence is not a participating member of the Hague Convention, the next legal question for our local Court will be whether that foreign nation has laws similar to our own UCCJEA.
The primary legal question when a child is taken by a parent to a foreign country will be one of “venue.” Basically, the California Court must determine if it has legal “control” over the case (venue) or if that control lies with the Courts in the foreign nation. Generally speaking, the California Court must have direct communication with the foreign court and the associated parties prior to rendering a legal decision or orders for the return of the children.
The question isn’t as much about where the child is physically located as to which laws will govern the child custody issue before the courts.
Assuming the California Court issues orders that the children be returned to the US immediately, obtaining physical custody is an entirely separate matter. The attorneys at Burke & Domercq have decades of experience and expertise in child custody matters. If you are involved in an international child custody scenario, you need immediate legal counsel from our experienced and proven local attorneys.