What are the factors to consider when dealing with a foreign court in an international custody dispute?

By Carolyn Grimes
December 23, 2016

First, you have to determine whether that court is a signatory to the Hague Convention. If they are not a signatory to the Hague Convention, they are not going to obey a United States court order. You would have to consider going to court in that country, to try to enforce your U.S. court order there. Depending on the country, that can be very tricky. Depending on the country, that can be dangerous. In a number of countries, children are considered chattel, property, and they are the property of the father in those countries.

If your child has been taken by his father to one of those countries, you are going to have an enormously difficult time getting your child back, and people tend to use means that you see in the movies, that are not traditional means, to get their children back. But they do have courts there, you can try to enforce that.

If a child's taken to a country where children aren't chatteled, but they're not signatories to Hague Convention summaries, then it's a matter of trying to enforce it. Most courts are very parochial in that circumstance if they're not party to the Hague Convention, where they will want the custody hearing there. They tend to favor their own country, but it's not impossible to get those children back. Basically, you end up having another custody hearing in the other country.


Carolyn Grimes is a family lawyer at the law firm of Wade Grimes Friedman Sutter & Leischner PLLC in Alexandria, Virginia. To learn more about Grimes and her firm, visit www.oldtownlawyers.com.

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December 23, 2016
Categories:  FAQs

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