International Child Custody

Lawyers Assisting Dallas Residents in Family Law Matters

In the ever-expanding global community, it is not uncommon for a person to move or travel from one country to another. A person may move internationally for business or personal reasons, and if the person is moving alone, the transition will most likely be relatively straightforward. If a person relocating to another country shares custody of a child, however, the situation can become complicated. International child custody disputes present a myriad of issues and concerns, the most important of which is determining an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child involved. If you share custody of a child and you or your child's co-parent lives in or wishes to move to another country, a seasoned Dallas family law attorney can assist you in seeking an arrangement that allows you to exercise your parental rights andis beneficial to your child. At the McClure Law Group, our attorneys know how important it is to protect your legal rights before an international move and will tirelessly pursue your desired result.

Determining Which Country Has Jurisdiction

In the United States, determinations as to what state or county has jurisdiction over a child custody matter are made under state law, but in international child custody disputes, it can be harder to determine which country's laws apply. If a child's parents do not live in the same country and the child regularly resides with each parent, it will likely be disputed as to which country has jurisdiction. If the parent who lives in a foreign country files a custody action, the court in which the action was filed will likely have jurisdiction, at least initially. The responding party can file a motion to try to transfer the action to the United States, but the success of such a motion will depend on several factors. Even if it is established that the United States has jurisdiction over a custody matter, in some cases, another country may refuse to enforce any custody agreement or order imposed by a United States court.

Moving a Child to a Foreign Country

In some instances, both parents will reside in the United States, but one parent wishes to relocate to another country. As in all custody cases, the most important consideration for a court determining whether to allow a parent to relocate with a child is what is in the best interest of the child. The court will also weigh the effect the relocation will have on the non-moving party’s parental rights, and whether the country to which the party wishes to move will enforce any current custody orders, before determining whether to grant a party’s request to move the child internationally.

Another important factor the court will consider is whether the country to which a parent wishes to relocate is a signatory to the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention is a treaty signed by many countries throughout the world that governs international custody disputes. The Hague convention, which is only applicable in countries that have signed the treaty, does not allow a party to change an existing custody order. Instead, it assists parents seeking the return of a child who has been wrongfully taken to another country.

A party wishing to invoke the Hague Convention must file a petition in the country from which the child was taken. If the country to which the child was relocated is a signatory to the Hague Convention, the court will hold a hearing to determine if the child was wrongfully taken from his or her home country and if so, order the child to be returned. Evaluating whether a child was wrongfully relocated requires an inquiry into the specific facts of the case. If you or your child's co-parent are considering moving out of the United States, it is important to speak with a family law lawyer experienced in handling international custody matters as soon as possible, to help you establish a plan for seeking an appropriate arrangement.

Seasoned Child Custody Attorneys Serving Dallas and Beyond

While all custody disputes can affect the parental rights of each parent, when one parent wants to relocate a child to another country, it can drastically inhibit a parent’s right to access his or her child. If you live in the Dallas area and are involved in an international child custody dispute, speak with a family law lawyer as soon as possible about the facts of your case. At the McClure Law Group, we will work diligently to help you seek an outcome that is favorable to you and your child. We are available by appointment at our Collin County office in Plano. We also frequently assist people in family law matters in Dallas, Garland, Fort Worth, Richardson, McKinney, Irving, Frisco, and Rockwall, as well as other cities in Dallas, Grayson, Denton, Collin, Tarrant, and Rockwall Counties. To set up a meeting, contact us at 214.692.8200 or through our form online.

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