Enforcement of an international custody order is addressed by the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Signatories to the Hague Convention are required to immediately return children if taken or retained in violation of a custody order. All countries who are parties to the Hague Convention must establish a “Central Authority.” This office is responsible for dealing with any Hague Convention violations. For children removed from the United States, a petition for return should be filed through the U.S. State Department, Office of Children’s Issues. From there, the petition is transmitted to the Central Authority for the other country involved and ultimately adjudicated there. It is important to begin the process as soon as a violation occurs for the best likelihood of having the child returned.

If you are contemplating a custody order with a party who lives out of the country or has significant connections to another country you may want to verify if that county is a signatory. This will be invaluable in the event there is an issue with the custody order while your child is abroad. You may want to consider if the country is a signatory even for vacation travel if you do not trust the other parent. A good custody order or agreement should dictate that written consent is required for travel outside of the United States so that you can have a say on where the child goes.

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