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International Child Custody


The European Court of Justice reports that divorce and legal separation between international couples are rising drastically. Additionally, both international and non-international couples are marrying less and less, but producing children at similar rates. When becoming a parent, couples do not often think of the legal consequences of where they decide to live with the child. The bond that unites parents seems sacred and indivisible. Sadly, it is not.

Often times, a parent that has left their home country, will decide to return to their country when the relationship deteriorates; for support, for legal recourse in their native language and culture. These individuals typically take any children with them as well. What mother would return to her country and abandon her child, no? It seems natural. It hardly seems criminal. But, in fact, it is an international crime of parental kidnapping to take your child from their *habitual residence without approval from the other parent, or a valid excuse designated by the international courts.

Unfortunately, when the parent returns to the home country, with child, their action is typically deemed international parental kidnapping. The left behind parent initiates a legal proceeding to return the child, and the courts in both the home country and the country from which the party recently abandoned, are alerted that the party is capable of grave criminal tendencies which the authorities believe significantly damage the minor child.

How can a mother be deemed a criminal for caring for her child? A mother always has a right to keep her children with her. Doesn’t she? The courts have determined otherwise. Children as young as 3 years old have been removed from their mothers after being found to have criminally kidnapped their own children. The mothers are sometimes subject to criminal consequences in the country where her child will be living.

The mother generally will have the choice to live in the foreign country with her children should she chose to do so. Children will generally not be removed from theirs mothers permanently, and the mothers do not face prison time though some expensive attorneys will falsely lead you to believe this is a legitimate threat. But, what will happen is that the children will return to their habitual residence. And the parent that attempted to relocate home, is now rooted in that foreign country if he or she hopes to see the children in any substantive way.

We are experts on the Hague Convention and the ways to protect your rights to your child. You may not always be blocked in that foreign country. However, the worst thing you can do is return to your home country with your child without the written permission of the child’s other parent. Let our experts help you to understand your rights, and help you make the best choice possible for your international family.

*Habitual residence is a legally defined term of art that often times does not mean where the child is currently living. Legal counsel with proven expertise in INTERNATIONAL FAMILY LAW should always be consulted when trying to understand your child’s Habitual residence and consequences of relocating with the child. A very specialized field of law.

Contact Info

AVRA Legal - International Family Law
Via Sardegna 29, Rome, Italy (Barberini)

+39 06 4821900