Child custody disputes are difficult at best, and they can be even more complicated and challenging when the divorcing parents are not located in the same state or country as the children. Every U.S. state has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), drafted in 1997 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law (except Massachusetts, which uses its own version of the UCCJEA). International child custody disputes fall under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980) and, in certain cases, the U.S. International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (1983).
You will need to consult a family law attorney with knowledge of and experience with these complex laws. Your qualified attorney will help you understand the rules and processes that are triggered by a multi-state or international child custody dispute.
The first question that arises in such disputes is “Which court should initially handle the case?” i.e., ““Which state or country has initial jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act?” To answer the question, the UCCJEA requires a determination of the child’s “home state,” defined as the state where the child has resided with a parent for a minimum of six months before the beginning of the custody case. Other factors can influence the choice of jurisdiction as well.
Cases on the international application of the UCCJA are “loaded with potential pitfalls for the unwary,” according to divorcemag.com, In an international case in which the child has been abducted or is being wrongfully retained, and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 12 U.S.C. Sec. 11.601-11610 is applicable, you can contact the U. S. State Department Office of Citizen and Counselor Services for assistance, or file suit for the return of the child. Under the UCCJA, a court can decline to exercise jurisdiction if the petitioner for an initial judgment has wrongfully taken the child from another state.
Today’s globalization and increased mobility have made interstate and international child custody disputes more common.
The seasoned family law and divorce lawyers at the McGrath Law Firm, founded by attorney Peter McGrath, will walk you through every step of the challenging divorce process to address your concerns and achieve your goals as efficiently as possible. From spousal support, child support, fault, and equitable division of property and debt to valuations, pre-nuptial agreements, annulments, and restraining orders, the experienced attorneys at McGrath Law Firm have a successful track record in all aspects of divorce law. Call us to schedule your consultation at (800) 283-1380.