International Child Custody

International custody disputes are among the most complicated types of proceedings which arise in the divorce system. International custody cases generally consist of cases involving a parent who wishes to take his or her children to another country on a temporary or permanent basis. Often, they involve a parent who improperly removes his or her children to another country in violation of a U.S. order.

In the last several years, there have been several high profile cases in which a parent has improperly removed a child or children from the United States, and the non-custodial parent has been unsuccessful in seeking the child’s return. The improper removal of a child from the country during the divorce process is an extremely scary process for both the child and the parent. If this is a risk in your case or has already occurred, immediate action is necessary.

Many countries are members of the Hague Convention and subscribe to the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which requires the expedited return of children to their home country when custody orders have been violated. At the present time, 92 countries have signed the treaty, including the most recent members: Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Iraq. However, while many countries purport to subscribe to the treaty, noncompliance has been a substantial problem, specifically in Central and South American countries. Thus, the best way to protect children is prevent their improper removal in the first place. The attorneys of Kollias & Giese, P.C. are knowledgeable and skilled in the area of international child abduction and are available to speak with you regarding your case. They are prepared to provide you with legal and practical advice as to how to prevent removal to a foreign country before it occurs.

In determining whether to allow a parent to remove minor children from the United States to another country on a permanent basis, Illinois courts analyze the same factors as they do in cases where a parent seeks to move the children to another state. Specifically, the court will consider the indirect and direct benefits of the removal to the minor children. The Eckert case provides that courts must weigh the following factors in removal cases:

  • The likelihood that the move will enhance the general quality of life of the custodial parent
  • The likelihood that the move will enhance the general quality of life of the children
  • What are the motives of the parent who is seeking removal? Is he or she trying to frustrate visitation with the other parent?
  • What are the motives of the non-custodial parenting who is resisting removal?
  • Given the presumption that it is in the best interests of the children to have a close relationship with both parents, what will the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent be?
  • Whether a realistic and reasonable visitation schedule can be implemented if the move to a foreign country is allowed.

Removal is a complicated process. It can be extraordinarily difficult for the custodial parent to convince the court that removal would be in the best interests of the children, particularly when removal is out of the country. The distance of the move, the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent, and the reasoning behind the move will be weighed heavily. If you are seeking to remove your children to another country, or if you are a non-custodial parent defending against removal, you should contact Kollias & Giese, P.C. to prepare a strategy for your case.