International Divorce Attorney in Atlanta, Georgia

Hague Convention/International Child Abduction: My spouse has left the country with my child – how can you help me?

Atlanta, GA family law attorney Judith Delus Montgomery talks about jurisdictions and where a child can stay.

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What will usually happen is that one party has left the country and maybe that party is from that other country. So I’ll give you an example of a case that I had, where one party was from Great Britain and the other party was here in the U.S. And the father came into the country and took the child for a few weeks. A few weeks turned into a couple of months, and the child had dual citizenship. Well the agreement of the parties is what the courts are going to look at. Where did the parties intend to raise the child? Where does the child have citizenship? The courts are going to look at that. They’re not going to determine visitation and custody. They want to know what country is the order out of? That means which country has jurisdiction. That can either be heard in federal court or in superior court here in the state, and so the courts are only going to be determining that.

If the order is out of France or Great Britain for example, and one parent already has primary custody, then the judge here is going to honor that. And they’re going to send that case and the child back to that country. They have to be a member of the Hague Convention, so not all countries are members of the Hague Convention, but if your country is, then you know that they’re going to uphold your country’s loss. And so Great Britain will have to send the child back to the U.S., back to that parent. And so it doesn’t mean that the parent in Great Britain can’t come to the U.S. and fight for custody here. The only thing that they’re trying to determine is where the child is supposed to be based on the order, and once that’s determined the child has to immediately come back.

So I had another case where the children were brought here to the U.S. from France. Well the order was out of France, and so the courts here made the decision that the parent from France could come to the U.S., pick up the children and take them back to France. Now the other parent that’s here in the United States can go and fight for custody in France, but that’s the only thing that the federal courts and the superior court is trying to determine, where does the order come out of? And that’s where the parties have to be heard.

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