Divorce and Child Custody Across Borders

Divorce and Child Custody Across Borders

One of the things I love most about Seattle and Bellevue is our growing international diversity. According to a recent 2015 article from the Economic Development Counsel of Seattle and King County, 1 in 3 residents of Bellevue are foreign born. This is due in part to the increasing number of international companies that are calling King County home and headquartering their companies here. It’s all part of the new Northwest boom, and one of the great things coming with it is the diversity this brings to our lives. I love seeing all of this first hand as I watch my school-aged kids learning Mandarin in public school and getting excited about traveling to Egypt where their teacher was born.

International Child Custody Issues

When families split up, our international growth raises issues for families. Divorce and child custody leave an international family facing unique legal issues.

  • What happens if one parent wants to end the marriage or intimate relationship and take the children back to their home country?
  • Will the court allow a parent to take children to a foreign country if they were born and raised in the U.S.?
  • What if the family is on a work-visa and there is a divorce?
  • What if a parent needs to move to the Seattle area for a job, but the children currently live in a foreign country or another state?

There Are No Easy Answers to These Questions

A lot depends on the specifics of the individual case. The court may consider the age of the children, the historic parenting roles of the parents, the location of the child’s extended family and support, and sometimes the immigration status of the parents to the extent a parent or child can legally remain in the U.S. These cases are difficult for families and even difficult for the court. In some cases the court will allow a parent to move with the children to a foreign country and sometimes the court will restrain the parents from removing the children from the State of Washington. There are many factors that go into these complex cases.

It’s Necessary to Hire a Family Law Attorney with International Custody Experience

If a parent is threatening to take or has taken children out of the state or country, you need to contact an attorney immediately. If your situation is not critical, it’s still necessary to establish a relationship with a family law attorney who is experienced in international child custody cases. It’s extremely important if you want the best outcome for you and your children.

Ideally, you should meet with an attorney before making any custody decisions so that you can know your rights, can weigh your options, and make sure you do not do anything to accidentally harm your own case.

International child custody cases are complex because they are sometimes governed by multiple laws including the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), the Hague Convention, and Immigration statutes. Sometimes your attorney will have to connect with various experts in the international arena to ensure that your case is strong and your children are safe.

Please contact International Custody attorney Lucia Levias at (206) 547-1486.

Lucia was raised in an international family and benefited from the differing perspectives of her parents and relatives. Now as a family law attorney, she enjoys serving clients who have complex international cases and strives to help them make the best decisions for their family.