In the wake of a divorce, some parents seek a completely fresh start by moving out of the country. While this may be a great decision for their career or other lifestyle considerations, it can also create complications in your child custody situation.
If your co-parent seeks to move out of the United States, you may want to consider some of the following issues in your parenting plan:
- Is the desired country a signer on the Hague Convention? This multi-nation agreement creates recognized avenues for addressing child custody violations or even abductions. If your international child custody case must go to court, many judges will only authorize moves to countries that have joined this agreement.
- Should virtual visits be a formal part of the parenting plan? While you and your co-parenting ex-spouse can likely come up with an arrangement for video calls, phone calls or other virtual visitation methods, including those aspects in writing can go a long way toward solving future arguments. It is always better to discuss a possibility before it becomes contentious in the stress of an international move. If you do add virtual visitation to your formal plan, you may also want to consider who has responsibility for software/hardware expenses and what you will do if technology glitches prevent you from connecting at the agreed time.
- Who will pay for travel expenses for visits? For older children, it may make sense for them to spend time with you in the states over school holidays or at other arranged times. Discuss with your spouse what share each of you will have in those travel expenses so that you can each be good stewards of the resources you have.
International moves involving child custody arrangements can take up to a year to finalize. Consult with legal representation early in the process so that you do not miss any important steps.