If you live in the United States and have a child with a person from another country, you may face international child custody concerns if the relationship ends. Who will your child live with if the other parent returns to his or her homeland?

Familiarize yourself with the common avenues parents may take when an international custody dispute arises.

Responding to requested relocation

 When one parent petitions the court to move to another country with the child, the judge considers first and foremost whether the move is in the child’s best interest and how it will impact his or her life. Other factors include whether the foreign nation enforces U.S. custody orders and whether its leadership has signed the Hague Convention, which applies when a child is wrongly taken to another country.

Understanding the UCAPA

 The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act protects parents who have concerns about kidnapping in an international custody dispute. You can file a petition under the UCAPA stating your concerns, including details about threats or attempts to take your child out of the country and the other parent’s destination country. In response to a petition, the court may limit custody and visitation, require the other parent to take an education course about the negative impact of parental abduction and prohibit parents from applying for a passport on behalf of the child.

Invoking the Hague Convention

 If the other parent has taken your child to another country and refuses to return, you can file for removal of the child under the Hague Convention provided the nation in question has signed that treaty. Currently, 82 member nations have agreed to the terms of the Hague Convention and will return a child to the U.S. for resolution of the custody dispute.

International custody cases are often quite complex and require an extensive understanding of the child custody laws both U.S. and abroad. These three steps can help protect your and your child’s interests in this type of legal dispute.