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Legal issues surrounding overseas child custody cases

If a Tennessee child is taken from a parent to another country, the parent who took the child may face federal charges. However, this does not mean that the any custody rulings can be made by the prosecutor. It also doesn't guarantee that the country where the child is located will order that he or she is returned to the United States.

If the country where the child is located is a member of the Hague Convention, its rules may dictate how an international kidnapping case is handled. However, authorities in the United States will coordinate as much as possible with international authorities in any case involving a child taken overseas. Parents are urged to not take actions on their own as it could make the situation worse for both the parent and child.

In some cases, an international court will create its own custody order. Therefore, taking the child out of that country without the help of the State Department could violate the law in that country and lead to a parent spending time in jail. Taking actions without approval may also be a violation of American laws as well. Breaking the law in an effort to return a child to the United States may also weaken a parent's claims under the Hague Convention.

When parents are in a custody dispute, a court will generally do what is in the best interest of the child. Therefore, a parent may lose custody or visitation rights if he or she takes the child out of the country without the knowledge or permission of the other parent. Parents who are seeking the return of their child or need help enforcing their existing parental rights may wish to seek the advice of an attorney.

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Stanley A. Kweller, Attorney at Law
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Nashville, TN 37201

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