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Custody Complications: What Happens When Your Co-Parent Takes Your Child Overseas?

Posted on: November 20, 2018

Custody Complications: What Happens When Your Co-Parent Takes Your Child Overseas?

California is home to many immigrants, which can create complications when a citizen and non-citizen have a child together. If your co-parent is a citizen of another country, you may wonder what affect your child custody agreement has overseas, or if you have any recourse if they take your child out of the country without your permission.

This is an extremely sensitive situation that requires an immediate call to a family law attorney. While you can read on to get a few ideas of what your options are, we strongly urge you to contact Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP at 909-482-1422 as soon as possible if your co-parent has taken your child overseas without your permission or if you have reason to believe that they may.

The Hague Convention may apply to your situation

The Hague Convention deals directly with a child being abducted internationally. It holds that if a parent takes their child to another country without the permission of the other parent, then they must return the child to the United States immediately. Not all countries fall under this Convention, but most of Europe does as well as parts of Africa, South American, and the Middle East.

Note that the Hague Convention does not say anything about child custody. It simply states that if a child is taken from the United States to another country without the permission of both parents, then the child must return to the country they came from. This may apply if all of the following are true:

  • Your child is under the age of 16.
  • The country to which your child was taken is a member of The Hague Convention.
  • The abduction violated your rights to visitation or custody.
  • Your child is currently in a country that is a member of The Hague Convention.

Making claims under the Convention

If this happens to you then you need to take action immediately. The Convention holds that you have one year from the day your child was removed to make a claim and have it looked at by a judge. If you miss this window then the judge is likely to consider whether or not the child is adjusting to their new life overseas and may decide that they should stay where they are.

If you have a case then you will need to work with a family law attorney to fill out a Hague Convention Application and file it with your local Hague Central Authority. In the United States, the central authority for children who have been abducted internationally is known as the United States State Department Office of Children’s Issues.

We know that this is a scary time. It is also a time that you must take action right away. You can contact Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP at 909-482-1422 to find out more about your options and to begin the process. There are steps you can take but you should take them as soon as possible.

Kristina Kendall-Gkikas
Kendall & Gkikas LLP
143 N. Harvard Avenue, 2nd Floor
Claremont, CA, 91711 USA