Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC Firm has considerable experience in child custody matters involving children traveling outside of the United States. We have been litigating these matters in Southeastern Pennsylvania courts for several decades. International custody cases are a unique area of the law, and can be very challenging for the court, the parent and their lawyer. Engaging a lawyer with experience in this representation is vital.
Child custody across borders is governed by The Hague Convention. This is a document signed by over 100 nations regarding the taking of a child from one country to another.
If a country does not participate in The Hague Convention, compelling the return of a child in that country will be governed by the laws of that country. In those countries, the parties are left to comply with local law and custom in deciding the fate of the child. In some countries, custody is simply gender based, i.e., “a mother should always be the custodian of the child”, or conversely, “a father should raise his child”.
Therefore, if a parent wishes to obtain a passport for your child, the immediate question should be to inquire where that parent wishes to travel with the child. If it is a country which has not signed The Hague Convention, it would be very risky to agree to cooperate in signing the documents to obtain a passport. That information alone should be enough for you to contact a good family lawyer.
Family Court Judges do often get involved in the issues surrounding passport procurement and international travel. If a parent has threatened to take a child and not return the child to the other parent in the past, that alone can be a “red flag” and should not be ignored.
Even if a country has signed the Convention, that is no guarantee that the Court will decide to return the child to the original country. Some countries are more willing to do so; some are less.
Having an experienced lawyer on your side is very important. Should you have any questions, please call us.