Are there laws regulating international child custody disputes?

Child snatching to gain jurisdictional advantage has become widespread, with parents taking children from their “country of habitual residence” to another nation, opening or re-opening litigation, and being awarded custody to the exclusion of the “left-behind parent.” The dreadful harm resulting to children is recognized, and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction has been adopted by the United States and many other countries. Congress implemented the Convention with the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA). The Convention has two stated objectives: “to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed or retained in any Contracting state; and to ensure that the rights of custody and access under the laws of one Contracting state are effectively respected in the other Contracting states.” Its goal is the prompt return of the abducted child to the country of his or her “habitual residence” for custody adjudication. Under the Convention, the court of the country of habitual residence is the only court with jurisdiction to decide the merits of a custody case; the country to which a child has been taken is specifically precluded from doing so.
The Hague Child Abduction Convention has adopted many of the principles of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), and parallels it in many respects. The idea is that the “home state” (country of habitual residence) should have continuing jurisdiction over child custody, and a parent should not be permitted to abduct a child to gain a custody advantage. Federal law mandates that state courts recognize the judgments of courts of all countries which have adopted the Convention as to child custody and access.

See also…

Child Custody and Support

Family Law, Divorce, Custody

International Law Issues