Texas parents can face international child custody challenges

When Texas parents divorce, their top concern is usually the care and custody of their children. In fact, many family law attorneys feel that child custody is among the most highly contentious forms of law. Things can become heated very quickly when parents struggle over custody matters, even when all parties reside within the same state. When one parent lives or relocates to another country, the legalities of child custody can become incredibly complicated.

In some cases, one parent relocates abroad in order to gain an advantage in a custody fight. If the new country of residence is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, it can be nearly impossible to secure custody rights, or to enforce an existing child custody order. The State Department estimates that between 2008 and 2012, as many as 7,000 children were taken abroad without the consent of the other parent. In many cases, these kids do not return to the United States, and the parent who is left behind simply loses all access to their child or children.

A bill is currently before the House of Representatives that could help parents caught in an international child custody dispute. The bill would give the State Department access to powerful diplomatic pressures that could be employed to convince other nations to work to address these disputes. Among the provisions is a requirement that the president take action when a particular nation is not cooperative in resolving a child custody case over a child within its borders.

For those parents in Texas and elsewhere who face an international child custody battle, this bill offers a measure of hope. By strengthening the ability of United States officials to leverage our diplomatic authority, parents hope that other nations will give their cases serious consideration. In the meanwhile, many of those who have been left behind are taking their stories public and raising awareness of this serious child custody issue.

Source:, Bill may help ‘left-behind parents’ in global child custody fights, Herb Jackson, Dec. 11, 2013