International Child Custody
When a child is taken by a parent from the country where that child lives, or is withheld from that country wrongfully, without the permission of the other parent, the non-consenting parent can seek relief from the courts under what is known as the Hague Convention.
The governing laws of the Hague Convention are different from California law in several ways, and require a good deal of familiarity in order to navigate. In other words, the court must determine the country of the child’s “habitual residence” so that country can take the lead in adjudicating the actual custody issues. The Hague Convention includes a number of affirmative defenses to a return of a child, as well as provisions related to the payment of attorney’s fees upon the successful prosecution of a Hague petition.
When the issue as to what country the child lives in comes up, a parent’s custody rights can be severely prejudiced if not handled appropriately. These cases are relatively rare and experience with them in a family law practice is equally rare.
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