Your children have gained considerable advantages by having parents of different nationalities. They are fluent in two languages, hold two passports and have experienced two very different cultures. In addition, they have enjoyed some fabulous holidays visiting their family abroad.

However, now that your marriage is heading for divorce, you might wish you had married someone from the same town rather than another continent. Child custody arrangements can become complicated when one parent wishes to move, especially if they plan to move to another country. Children need both parents in their lives, which is what courts aim to ensure when making custody decisions. If your spouse returns to their home country, spending time with the children will be very hard for one of you.

How the Hague Convention can help

There is no easy answer. However, if you cannot reach an agreement and fear your spouse may run off with the children before settling the matter, you might want to seek a court order. If your spouse has already removed your children from the country, all is not lost. Around 100 countries have signed up to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. It means they will work together to find your child and reunite you with them, if appropriate.

The countries that signed the treaty accept that the courts where the child was “habitually resident” should rule on custody matters. If your child has been away from the U.S. for a year, a court may decide they have changed habitual residence to the other country.

Whether your child is still in-country or has already left, time can be of the essence. Seek legal help to protect your rights and theirs.