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California child custody law regarding international abduction

Divorcing couples with children are sometimes unable to reach a consensus regarding child custody and visitation rights. Generally, when that happens, the court will order both parents to attend a meeting with Child Custody Recommending Counseling Services. This agency is located near the Hayward Courthouse in Alameda County. The services are offered at no cost to either parent and are designed to provide the court with a neutral, third-party assessment as to which parent should receive primary custody, visitation rights and other related issues. The court will then consider these recommendations when formulating child custody determinations.

Unfortunately, some parents decide that they are unhappy with the court-ordered child custody arrangements and flee with the child to another country. California shares its southern border with Mexico, and Canada is only two states away to the north. What can a parent do if the child's other parent has engaged in international abduction?

In 1988, the United States became a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The multilateral treaty now recognizes almost 90 countries and it is currently in effect in 69 other countries. The treaty has three primary objectives: to get wrongfully removed or retained children quickly returned to their home countries, to reciprocate those same rights to other signatories to the treaty and to deter future cases of international child custody abductions.

In 2000, that treaty got even stronger with the addition of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which basically deputized California's 58 district attorneys with the authority of proactively taking action to enforce the treaty.

If you are a parent with a child who has been internationally abducted, you should consult with your family law attorney regarding the particulars of the treaty and whether they apply to your situation. For example, the child in question must be under the age of 16, there must be a convention agreement between both countries and it must also be established that the child was wrongfully removed from his or her home country.

Of course, these are just some of the treaty requirements. A legal professional in the field will be able to assist you further with pursuing the return of your child.

Source: State Department of the United States, "When Children cross borders: How California prosecutors resolve international child abduction cases" Elaine F. Tumonis, Aug. 06, 2014

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