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Swift action essential in international child custody disputes

A child custody issue for a Texas parent becomes especially difficult to resolve if the other parent removes the child from the country. Then, the matter enters the arena of international law. Over 90 countries recognize the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, also known as the Hague Convention. If the child is taken to a participating nation, then the tenets of this convention could guide the return process, but it is recommended that a parent take legal action swiftly.

A petition should be filed under the Hague Convention within one year of the abduction. If the child was wrongfully removed from the United States and under the age of 16, then the treaty supports the mandatory return of the child when both countries involved have adopted the convention. After one year has passed, the treaty leaves the return of the child up to the discretion of government officials or courts.

When a court rejects a petition, regardless of the time period involved, a parent must appeal the denial promptly. At every stage, speed remains very important. The likelihood of foreign officials deeming that a child has become accustomed to a new environment and should not be moved increases as more time passes with the child residing in another country.

A parent concerned about a possible international abduction of a child might have other alternatives if the other country is not a signatory to the treaty. Custody disputes that have an international aspect can be especially challenging, and a family law attorney might recommend that the parent notify the U.S. State Department to see if there is a possibility of being notified when the other parent applies for a passport for the child.

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