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Challenges of enforcing international child custody regulations

Divorce can be a complicated, emotional process, made even more so when child custody issues are involved. The entire process can become even more complex when one of the ex-spouses decides to move to another country and take their child with them, violating custody orders and agreements. Pennsylvania residents who might be facing this situation might benefit from knowing what recourse a parent might have if their ex-spouse takes the child of the United States and refuses to return.

One situation is that of a Texas father whose Brazilian ex took their 6-year-old son for a family wedding in Brazil in 2013 and then refused to return. The mother allegedly manipulated documents to get a Brazilian court to grant her full custody and started a new life in Brazil. Fighting for custody of his son, the man was granted partial visitation rights, so every eight weeks he travels from Houston to Salvador to see his child. This solution is not ideal, and the father is concerned that the child is having difficulty communicating his feelings about the situation in English.

The man and his lawyers are currently working to try to get the child back to the U.S. A Texas court and a Brazilian federal court both declared that the mother took the child from the U.S. illegally. However, the Brazilian court ruled that the child must stay in the country, as he is settled in the community. The father's lawyers argue that the abduction violates the applicable Hague Convention, which indicates a child must be returned to his home country after an abduction. They also say that for this to happen, presidential intervention is necessary.

Though it might be an emotional, challenging and long process, these are some of the avenues available to a parent in this type of situation. A parent who is facing a dispute of this nature might want to learn about other possible remedies through a consultation with a family law attorney.

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