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Child Custody Across State Lines

One of the most devastating things that canhappen to a parent is to have their child taken out of the country without their knowledgeor without their permission. Fortunately, there is help available, even locally. Whetheryou’re in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, wherever you are, you can go to your localattorney and you can say, My child’s been taken out of the country. What do I do? Theshort answer is we’ve got to go to that country and get your child back. And, ‘how do we dothat? I don’t know any lawyers in that country. Can you help me do that? And the answer tothat question is yes, absolutely. There is a treaty that many countries have signed calledthe Hague Convention. The purpose of this

treaty is to provide a uniform set of rulesthat everybody obeys, that everybody follows all the countries that have signed it, andthese rules are designed to provide the framework in which the courts will decide where is custodyand jurisdiction going to be determined. Is it going to be determined, for example, inFrance, or is it going to be determined in California? Under the Hague Convention, generallythe place where the custody analysis is undertaken by the court is where the kids have been livingfor the past six months at least. So if your children have been living in California forthe past six months and all of the sudden they get whisked away by your exspouse toFrance, you need to locate a lawyer in France,

and your local family law attorney can helpyou do that, and that lawyer needs to go into the court in France and explain the circumstancesand get an order from the French court commanding the return of that child to the state of California.And it works both ways. If somebody from France or England or one of the signatories to theHague Convention flees to the United States and ends up in Los Angeles or Ventura County,what do you do? Well if you’re living in France and that’s happened to you, you locate a localattorney. And that local attorney goes into court here and explains to the court: hereare the facts, the child has been living in France for the past five years, and now herethey are without notice and without warning

in California, and we need to send them backso that the appropriate court can decide which parent is going to be best for the childscircumstances with regard to custody and visitation. These policies work not only between countriesthey also work between states and they even work between counties in one state. For exampleif a child is taken from Los Angeles County up to San Francisco County, California hasits own unique code called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act,sometimes called the UCCJEA, and its provisions are very similar to those found in the HagueConvention. Again, the idea is to provide a specified set of rules for determining wherethe custody fight is going to happen. They

don’t determine who the better parent is;they don’t determine what’s best for the child with regard to custody; they simply decidewhat court is going to hear this case. This is very complicated. Not every country isa signatory to the Hague Convention, and if you have the ability to hire an experiencedHague Convention lawyer or an experienced child custody attorney, you really shouldtake advantage of that if you can. One of the really difficult things that somebodyis faced with if, for example, they’re unemployed, they don’t have savings, and their child hasbeen taken away from them to another country, is how do I get my child back now? What doI do? And there usually are mechanisms in

place that will allow you to go to court locallyto try to get an order for attorney’s fees or some other kind of compensation. Thereare also mechanisms in place that will allow you to go to court in the other country andtry to get attorney’s fees so that you not only receive an order that your child hasto be returned, but you can also ask that the offending parent pays the cost associatedwith that. Now, whether or not they have the money to do that is another question. Thebottom line is the overriding purpose of the Hague Convention is to determine where thecustody decision is supposed to be made. Unfortunately, generally speaking they leave the money aspectsof it up to the local courts to decide how

Child Custody Rights Interstate Move Child Support Agreement

Hi. My partner has a 6 year old daughter. The mother of his daughter has remarried and is moving interstate. Can she take the daughter legally without an agreement in place? When the daughter was 2 years old they had a mediator written request that neither could live more than 100km away and then it was meant to be shared custody 50:50. This never happened. We also have a private agreement in place of child support every week. Now she wants weekly payments plus us to pay for full Private School fees. With the move, she is saying we would have the daughter for holidays, but when it comes to Christmas, she expects never to share. What can we do to stop this? If she was to legally go for child support, do we have to back pay previous years? Go to LawAnswers .au, Australia’s 1 Legal Aid and Legal Questions Site, like I did, to learn more.

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