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The complexity of international child custody matters

When Florida parents are unable to come to an agreement on the care and custody of shared children, the matter often ends up going before a family court. When there are matters of international jurisdiction, these cases can become incredibly complex and can drag on for many years. The Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (commonly known as the Hague Convention) was put into place to help nations determine how to proceed when a child within their borders is subject to a child custody case in another jurisdiction.

According to the Hague Convention, children who have been wrongfully removed from their nation of residence and are subject to a custody action must be returned immediately. Currently, more than 90 nations have adopted the Convention. When one parent believes that his or her child has been wrongfully relocated to another nation, a petition is filed in the nation where the child "habitually resides." However, things become more complicated when parents begin to fight over where their case should be heard.

The petition can be filed in either state or federal court, and the decision where to file can have a great deal of impact on the ultimate outcome of the case. Parents often are at odds over exactly where a child's habitual residence lies. In addition, the parent who removed the child from his or her nation of habitual residence will sometimes argue that such removal was not "wrongful." Simply filing a petition is not sufficient to have a child immediately returned; there is a complex legal process that can play out within the nation where the child is located.

The Hague Convention was put in place to help facilitate the swift return of children who have been wrongfully removed from their nation of residence. However, there are numerous challenges that can be placed in the way of such a return, and international child abduction cases often become incredibly complex in a very short period of time. For those in Florida who are facing this type of legal challenge, it is critical to work with a family law attorney who is familiar with child custody matters that make use of the Hague Convention guidelines.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Hague Convention and International Child Abduction", Brad Reid, April 6, 2016

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