International Child Custody Issues

Our Pennsylvania Child Custody lawyers spotlight the issues related to International Child Custody:

When does moving with your child to another country rise to the level of “abduction?” Relocation issues after divorce are often litigated in Pennsylvania courts and all across the country, where parents are asking the court for permission to move elsewhere with their children. This move can be within the United States, or to another country. However, international moves, and especially those without the permission of a United States’ court, have sparked the need for International Laws and Treaties to protect children from abductions. For example, if a parent moves with a child to another country without the permission of the court, this can rise to the level of abduction charges under the Hague Convention.

Under the Hague Convention, international laws become applicable to those states who are members (including the U.S.) of the convention, and where a child is taken from their “habitual residence” to another country. Of course, as in all child custody cases, the overriding concern is the safety of the child.

Specifically, these International child abduction codes of conduct are contained in the Hague Convention of 30 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is a multilateral treaty, or a treaty between many countries. The Hague website, ( provides useful resources including a list of what countries are “Contracting States,” the actual Text of the Convention, a “Model Application Form for the return of wrongfully removed or retained children,” as well as Explanatory Guides and Special Commission meeting documents.

Role of Mediation: Many of these cases are now handled through a mediation process, wherein the goal is to “secure the voluntary return of the child or to bring about an amicable resolution of the issues” in the case. Guide to Good Practice under the Hague Convention of 30 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is done through mediation, conciliation, or other similar methods.

To read more about this International treaty and how it might affect an existing child custody arrangement, visit the Hague Convention Website.

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