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How is international child custody handled?

There are times when a parent may attempt to sidestep the laws of Massachusetts and take a child out of the country after a divorce. When the child is removed from the country, a previous agreement may no longer be enforceable because the document no longer has jurisdiction. However, there is recourse for a parent in this situation. The Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which was held in October of 1980, created an agreement between many of the countries of the world to protect the interests of children in this situation.

The convention agreement means that any country that was a party to the agreement will take steps to ensure that the custody laws and decisions of any particular country are upheld regardless of where the child is taken. The primary objective is always to return the child to their proper country of residence and to ensure that all rights of custody and access are upheld equally in all countries that are part of the agreement. The articles of the convention may come into play if the child was taken unlawfully, as in an abduction scenario, or if a joint custody agreement is made between parents living in different countries.

Since one nation's divorce agreements and child custody laws cannot be directly enforced in another sovereign nation, the convention allowed for the creation of central authorities that would coordinate between the nations involved. When a person has a custody issue that crosses international boundaries, that person must contact the Central Authority and get their help in resolving the issue.

Having a child taken across international boundaries by a former spouse can be extremely frightening for a parent. An attorney could still be very helpful in these scenarios. The attorney could help a parent make the proper connections with the central authority and work with that organization to get the proper outcome. Since such cases are extremely complex, no part of this blog is meant to substitute for direct legal advice.

Source: Massachusetts Law Libraries , "Massachusetts Law About Divorce", November 17, 2014

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