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International Child Custody Issues

What is an international child custody issue? It is a custody dispute between the United States and another country.  Often a person had a child with a US citizen and has a baby in the United States or in a foreign country.  The child of the couple is either a US citizen or is a foreign citizen.  The dispute arises then whether the US parent is fighting for custody of a child who is a US citizen living in a foreign country or is not a US citizen and lives in the United States.  It is a complicated situation that needs a careful approach to resolve in the favor of the parent who is a US citizen.

If the child was born in the US and is a citizen and the parent is a US citizen the Court battle will be more easily won.  If the child is born out of the US and the parent is fighting for custody of a non US citizen child the battle for custody will be much more difficult to achieve.  There are internationsl laws under the Hague Convention Treaty that establishes international child custody laws. It was enacted in 1980 the protect children from being taken unlawfully from countries of their habitual residence. They often assess where is the child living during the custody dispute and what court is the custody action filed.  And in some cases several courts are involved in several countries.  The Hague Treaty states that the Country of residence will decide the custody dispute. Often this dispute can go on for years deciding who will make the final descision in this childs life.  What country is better suited to make the custody decisions for that child.

The legal term is subject matter jurisdiction and the California Courts. Under the Uniform Child Custody Protection Act California uses its jurisdictional powers to determine the state or country that might has custodial jurisdiction of a proceeding.  So for parties involved in a proceeding in California where one party is not a resident of California or the Child in dispute is not a US citizen, California will take jurisdiction and decide the fate of the case.

One problem that occurs in these international disputes is that child support.  Once you start a custody dispute even if involving two countries, Support will automatically attach itself to the Case.  And guess what? California can enforce and make decisions on child support. Child support takes itself a step further.  A party can open a child support case in California wherever they might be a citizen of.  That means a Italian citizen can take their child to California and open up a child support case without fighting custodial jurisdiction. But of course once you open child action it lends itself to a custodial batttle.  One party obviously does not want to pay support without getting their fair share of custody.

Thus Courts nowadays are equipped to make subject matter jurisdiction issues on custody and have enacted statutes to coincide with their policy on the matter.  A lot of questions need to be answered by the Courts involved about the custodial relationship in order to make a fair and just decsision.

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