If you’ve been through a child custody hearing, you know that every detail matters. Custody arrangements and co-parenting plans are designed to make life after divorce easier. They help families stay connected. They also offer a sense of structure. However, when a major life change happens, like moving out of the country, what happens with your child custody arrangements? Can you move to another country if you have full custody? Can the non-custodial parent move to another country? How does child custody across international borders work exactly? International travel or relocation needs to be handled with care after a divorce. In this article, we discuss tips for handling child custody across international borders.
Relocation Custody Laws in Rhode Island
Custody arrangements are made with geographical locations in mind. The custody laws are specific to a state and a jurisdiction. When one parent wants to move to another country or state, family courts will take this move very seriously. Laws concerning child custody across international borders can become very complicated. It’s important to follow all of the appropriate legal steps before you attempt to move with your child across a border. A smart first step is to contact a family lawyer with experience in child custody relocation.
International Kidnapping Laws
If either parent decides to relocate internationally against the other parent’s wishes, it could be considered parental kidnapping. This is a direct violation of federal, state, and international law. It’s important to know that you cannot simply leave the state or country without notifying your co-parent. Even if you are the primary custodial parent with full custody, you can’t leave without telling the non-custodial parent. Many countries are involved in the multilateral treaty designed to prevent issues like this from happening. It’s referred to as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. If your co-parent takes your child or children to another country who has signed this treaty, that country can help you get your child back.
Considerations for Permitting a Parent to Relocate Internationally
When one parent wants to share child custody across international borders and the other parent supports the move, litigation can be avoided. If one parent doesn’t give consent to the move, then the parent wishing to relocate will have to present their case before a family court judge. It’s important for this parent to present a very compelling case in order to be granted permission to move. For instance, it won’t be permitted if a judge detects that a parent is initiating a move across borders simply to make life inconvenient for the other parent. Of course, being a primary custodian is an advantage in situations like this. However, it’s not the only factor that a judge will consider. It’s always important to remember that a judge will base his or her decision on the best interest of the child. Factors that can contribute to this decision will include:
- The country the parent wishes to move to
- Why the parent wishes to relocate (access to medical care or new employment)
- What the child’s support system will look like in this new country (extended family or other support networks)
- What kind of care the child will receive in the new country including shelter, medical care, education
- How convenient is it for the co-parent to visit the child
- Travel logistics
- Is it feasible for the child to maintain healthy relationships with both parents
- How often a non-custodial parent will be able to see the child
- How the move will impact the child’s quality of life
- Whether the country is a signatory to the Hague Convention
Child Support Enforcement
Child custody across international borders also might affect child support payments. Support payments might need to be adjusted due to different standards of living in the new country. Remember that child support can be enforced overseas. If a parent leaves the country but owes child support, you still have rights. It will all depend on what country the parent is living in. Your family lawyer will know how to follow the proper channels to enforce child support payments across borders.
Parents leaving the country due to military service can handle their child custody arrangements in another way. The courts in Rhode Island can actually expedite a child custody hearing to comply with their deployment or other military obligation. Remember to contact your family lawyer as soon as possible if you are a military member who has been called for service. Your lawyer can help you to make sure your child custody arrangement is secure before you leave the country.
For More Information on Child Custody Across International Borders
Divorced parents looking to move to another country should always contact an experienced family lawyer before making plans. Your family lawyer will be able to guide you through each step in the process. Contact a family lawyer today to learn more!