In a global society such as ours, it is no longer unusual to meet couples in which each partner is of a different faith, different political belief, or ethic background. Unfortunately after a divorce or separation, those differences that you once found so charming and unique about your partner, may now, in the instance of international travel, become a source for alarm.

One such concern that arises in the context of family court, is that of the other parent traveling with a child to a foreign country and then failing to return. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that our focus is on preventive acts you can take to avoid problems. As follows are steps you should consider in the context of international travel:

1. Don’t wait. Consult an attorney about your legal rights as soon as you learn that the trip is a possibility.
2. Respect the rights of the other party. The two of you had a child together. Even though you are not together as a couple, your child still has two parents, and the right to know the culture and background of each parent — including traveling to that parent’s country of origin.
3. Find out whether the country to which the child is traveling, is a party to the Hague Convention. The Convention is an international treaty that governs enforcement of custody orders from one county to another. However not every county is a signatory to the treaty, and even among those counties who are parties to the treaty, not all enforce the treaty equally.
4. Ask for reasonable accommodations.  You can require that the other parent post a substantial bond, provide a travel itinerary, allow you to travel with the child, or meet up with the child at a point during the trip.  Additionally, you can require regular communication with the child while away. 

If you still have a genuine fear that the other parent intends to abscond with the child and refuse to return to this county, be prepared to meet the heavy burden of the court. Your fears or suspicions are not enough. You need to gather hard evidence of the following:

  • any steps taken toward living in the other county — has the other parent looked for work or housing in this new location, increased their recent contact with the other country, changed their citizenship or immigration status
  • any changes in the other parent’s ties to their present community, i.e. have they sold their house, moved personal items into storage, quit or lost a job, or any other evidence that the other parent does not intend to return
  • expert testimony about any specific dangers in the proposed country of travel, and/or about that county’s legal system and history of enforcing or ignoring other county’s custody orders.
  • any previous attempts at abduction, or threats made of abduction

SOURCE: Preventive Family Law for Nevada