Relocation issues after divorce are often litigated in Pennsylvania courts and across the country, where parents must request the permission of a judge to move elsewhere with their children. However, due to an uptick in mobility among Americans and a steady increase in international families, the world is becoming a smaller place. That said, there is now a serious need for legal professionals who understand the unique challenges that international child custody matters present.
The child custody process is already complex. When parents live, or are making efforts to live in separate countries, things can get tricky. International custody disputes require specialized knowledge and insight into international laws that govern families. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill and expertise to help navigate you through the intricate maze of legal procedures that arise in international custody disputes.
The International Parental Kidnapping Act
A fairly common international custody dispute involves what's referred to as “parental kidnapping.”
Parental kidnapping is exactly what it sounds like - a parent takes a child from the custody of another parent when he or she has no privilege to do so. The rates of this federal crime are at an all-time high and are frequently happening on an international scale.
According to American federal statutes, a parent is guilty of this crime if it is proven that they removed “a child from the United States, or attempted to do so, with no intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.” For example, let's say a married couple had a daughter together in the United States. In the wake of a divorce, the father decides to move with his daughter to another country with no permission or intent to return. In this situation, the father has committed the federal crime of international kidnapping.
Under this law, the term “child” refers to a person who is under the age of 16. Convicted offenders of this crime can up to three years of imprisonment.
The Hague Convention
The specific laws that apply to international child custody cases depend on the countries involved. However, the Hague Convention applies in most cases because the majority of European and westernized countries are members of this treaty.
The Hague Convention has an expeditious protocol for cases of international protocol. Article 3 of the Convention specifically requires that member countries promptly return children to their country of habitual residence when they are wrongfully removed or retained in another country in breach of the custody rights of the parent left behind. The law of the state or country from which the child as removed determines custody rights.
In situations where the Hague Convention doesn't apply, state, federal, and foreign laws may apply.
Pennsylvania International Custody Attorney
In the wake of a separation or divorce, it's easy for a bad decision to spiral into a serious legal issue. Once a child is taken from their habitual residence, these situations evolve from a mere custody dispute to criminal conduct. If you've been arrested for international kidnapping, you need the help of an experienced attorney who understands the family law aspects of your case as well as criminal law.
Joseph D. Lento is well-versed in both areas of law. He will inform you of your options in international custody predicaments, protect your rights, and help you understand and navigate the court system. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.