International Child Custody
During and after a divorce, child custody is often one of the most complicated issues that parents must address. In many cases, both parents hope to maintain good relationships with their children, and advancing these interests along with the needs of the children involved can lead to confusion and sometimes frustration. Issues of child custody may become even more complicated when one parent lives abroad or intends to move abroad. Parents must be cognizant of both the requirements of their Wisconsin child custody order and international child custody laws. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, Milwaukee child custody attorney Terese J. Singer can assist you in understanding all of your legal obligations to your co-parent and children before either of you takes the leap to relocate abroad.Moving a Child Abroad and International Child Custody
Occasionally in Wisconsin divorce cases, couples will encounter a situation in which one parent would like to move their child abroad. They may be hoping to move closer to family living out of the country, or they may have the opportunity to take a higher-paying international job. While international relocation for a child is certainly possible under these conditions, it cannot be done spontaneously. Instead, the parent must seek approval from the court that approved the original child custody order.
A parent seeking to modify their custody order to relocate abroad must present a substantial change in circumstances that has led to the need for a relocation. A Wisconsin court will then consider this change and whether it warrants a modification as serious as allowing a child to be moved abroad.
The primary interest of the court will always be to do what is in the best interest of the child. This may include evaluating factors such as the disruption to a child’s lifestyle or educational opportunities, the challenge of incorporating into the culture where the child is being moved, how the parent seeking relocation will ensure that the other parent does not lose visitation rights, and whether the country to which the relocation would occur has a judicial system that would enforce a Wisconsin child custody order.
Ultimately, the court will want to ensure that the rights of the parent who is not moving will be protected and that the relationship between the child and the non-moving parent will not suffer.Relocation Without Authorization
In some circumstances, a parent may decide to move a child abroad to an overseas residence without seeking the approval of the other parent and authorization from the court. Even if this is done without malice or ill intent, this constitutes an international child abduction.
Parents who have a child who is abducted and moved abroad without their consent should retain an attorney to take action against the parent who took the child under the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Convention”). The Hague Convention governs international child abduction and creates a process that courts must use to ensure the return of an abducted child.
Any country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention must abide by its requirements. Under the Hague Convention, any parent who has a child who is abducted can file a child custody petition with their local court and ask the court to invoke the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention may be invoked if the child was a habitual resident of a signatory country and was wrongfully removed from that country. If invoked, the Hague Convention provides for a resolution of the abduction within six weeks of when the petition is filed, and it gives courts across national boundaries the authority to work together to ensure that this happens.Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in the Milwaukee Area to Protect Your Rights
Having a child removed from the country without prior notice is any parent’s worst nightmare. Thankfully, there is a system of laws put in place to assist you in getting your child back as quickly as possible, while also protecting them from harm. If you are facing a child abduction scenario, or if you are considering moving abroad and want to ensure that you do not violate any Wisconsin or international laws, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, Attorney Terese J. Singer can advise you on how to properly seek a change in custody to allow for an international move, or how to file a petition seeking to invoke the Hague Convention. Contact our office for more information at (414) 271-6400 or online. We also can assist people who are seeking to terminate parental rights or take other actions with regard to custody and visitation. Terese J. Singer represents clients in Milwaukee, Port Washington, Racine, West Bend, Waukesha, and other areas of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington, and Waukesha Counties.