International Child Custody Issues

Since Connecticut has many foreign nationals living and working here, the courts often see contested child custody and visitation cases involving these foreign nationals. Please see the page concerning child custody for some of the basics of child custody in Connecticut courts. Child custody and visitation cases are some of the most difficult divorce cases, and they can be even further complicated by international issues.

International child custody cases often involve the fear that one parent will take the child back to the home country depriving the other spouse of visitation or access to the child. These fears are even more serious when they involve countries that do not provide equal rights to both spouses for visitation or custody. Many people have heard of cases where a child has been taken from America to another country by a parent, and that parent used the laws of that country to keep the child there. Such was the case as told in the Book "Not Without My Daughter".

Connecticut courts will enforce international treaties which have been signed by the U.S. on this subject to prevent these child abductions. For instance, the treaties require that a child have resided in a jurisdiction for at least six months before a court will have jurisdiction to make an order of child custody. This provision is meant to prevent a person from taking a child to another country and immediately seeking an order for sole custody in that country. Also, if a person does remove a child from Connecticut who had been living here for at least six months, the Connecticut Courts will make an order granting custody to the parent who is still living in Connecticut. Then that order could be taken to the foreign country and enforced there. Please note that not all countries have signed these treaties.

In other cases, we often see problems where one spouse cannot stay in the U.S. or does not want to stay in the U.S., and petitions the Connecticut Court for the right to remove the child to the other country. Connecticut courts have the power to make such order to allow a parent to remove a child, however, it is not common. The ultimate issue for the court will be "What is in the best interest of the child".

Attorney Kevin L. Hoffkins has had extensive experience representing parents who are facing these issues.