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Abduction and international child custody disputes

When people in Illinois develop international relationships, they may not think much about the complexities that can come with divorce or separation. After all, the dissolution of a marriage can lead to serious legal and financial disputes among couples of all nationalities. For parents, child custody issues are often contentious. This is one area where an international divorce and separation can be most complex. In general, the custody issues will be handled where the child lives, even if that may put one parent at a significant disadvantage.

Child custody disputes are a relatively common cause of child abduction, even when both parents live domestically. While still rare, these abductions are far more frequent than those involving strangers. If a parent takes the child to his or her home country, it can be more challenging to seek their return. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction addresses these cases. Internationally, 98 countries are signatories of this multilateral treaty, giving it the full power of domestic law in each. Under the agreement, children who are abducted to a member country must be returned to their country of regular residence to handle custody issues.

Of course, the issue can be far more challenging when a parent takes a child to a non-signatory country. There may be no defined process to seek the child’s return, and some countries’ laws give a strong preference to their nationals in child custody issues. In other cases, countries may provide extremely strong rights to either the mother or the father and little or no rights to the other, especially in the case of unmarried parents.

Resolving an international family dispute may require quick action. A family law attorney may represent a parent in seeking a fair child custody order and parenting plan.