International Custody

International-CustodyToday’s society is becoming increasingly mobile.  It is not uncommon for people to move hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their childhood home.  When a divorce or separation occurs, it is not unusual for one of the parents to want to relocate, and this sometimes means the relocation will be to a different country.  If the parties have children together, there are specific issues that can arise regarding international custody.

During a child custody dispute, a court will make an order for parenting time and legal custody.  In most cases, the order will not specifically state that either parent is not allowed to take the child out of the country.  That said, to get a passport for a child under the age of sixteen, both parents must agree and sign the appropriate forms, unless the parent applying for the passport on the child’s behalf has sole legal custody.  Taking a child out of the country for a visit is not usually restricted, as long as the parent taking the child for a visit does so during his or her parenting time.

When a parent seeks to relocate out of the country with the child, the parents will likely need to return to court.  Relocating to another country will almost certainly require the current parenting time schedule to be modified to reflect that the distance between the parents’ respective new homes.  The court will examine a variety of factors in making the decision whether to allow a parent to relocate out of the country with the parties’ minor child.  These factors include the cultural practices and conditions in the new country, whether the new country would be likely to enforce the Minnesota custody order, and whether the child has existing ties and family in the new country.  The court will also consider whether the new country is a signatory to the Hague Convention.  The Hague Convention is an international treaty allowing for a child who has been unlawfully removed from his or her home country to be returned.  A country that is not a signatory to the treaty is unlikely to assist the parent remaining in Minnesota to help get the child returned if the relocating parent refuses to abide by the custody order.

If you have questions about domestic or international custody, we can answer them.  Call us at (651) 371-9117 to talk about your case and your children.