Going through a divorce can be difficult for everyone involved. Often times a couple that is going through a divorce has to consider property division, child custody, and parenting time, not to mention all while dealing with the emotional piece. But what happens if a divorce occurs in another country and one parent brings the child to the United States without informing the other parent?
It may not seem common, but just recently a woman got into a custody fight with her ex-husband after bringing their daughter to into the United States, a violation of the custody agreement. The mother was from Lebanon; her move to the U.S. became an international custody battle.
When the couple was originally divorced in Lebanon, the mother was granted primary custody of the child; the father was granted limited visitation rights. Now the father is arguing that the mother’s move to another country deprived him of the right to see his daughter. A Lebanese court also claims that the mother abducted the daughter.
The appeals court in the state that the mother currently lives in has ruled that the foreign court’s order be dismissed. As is true in all custody disputes, courts will consider the best interests of the child above all other factors. And the state’s court will only apply foreign custody laws if they closely match the state’s custody laws.
The state’s court determined that the foreign laws did not seem to put the child’s best interest first. To the court, it seemed like the father was trying to get the daughter back because the mother left the country with her. Therefore the state’s court determined that the foreign country’s order would not be enforced.
This is just an example of how a custody dispute can escalate into something bigger. Often neither parent will get exactly what they want after the dispute is settled. But ultimately, the concern is to create a custody plan that works in the best interests of the child.
Source: Boston Herald online, “Mass. mother wins foreign custody spat,” Kyle Cheney, 01 January 2011