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International marriages and partnerships are part of many California residents’ lives. People may work and live outside the country and develop a relationship there, or they may connect with a foreign national living in the United States. When any relationship comes to an end, the resulting legal and financial issues can lead to serious disputes, especially when there are children involved. Both parents may want to have more time with the kids, and either parent may see the court system in their area as biased against them. Custody violations and even abductions are all too common even inside the United States, such as when one parent takes the child away in an attempt to maintain full custody or defy a court order.

The situation is much more complicated when an international conflict is involved. One parent may attempt to leave the country with the child, taking him or her to the parent’s home country where the laws may provide much greater support to their custody claim. As most child abductions involve child custody disputes, there is an international treaty designed to deal with the legal issues that arise when one parent runs off with a child outside the boundaries of a child custody order.

Nearly 100 countries around the world have ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, which lays out a framework to deal with abductions. If one parent takes the child to his or her country, that country must return the child to their normal residence so long as the country is a signatory of the treaty.

Of course, these cases can be more complicated when the parent’s home country has declined to sign on to the Hague Convention. A family law attorney may be able to assist a parent dealing with an international child custody dispute.