Nissa M. Ricafort answers:
International custody disputes present some of the most complex and unique issues in family law. It is very important that you work with a family law attorney who has significant experience with these cases. The first step is to determine if the foreign country is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is an international treaty that provides specific resources and remedies to help locate and return wrongfully abducted children. It also provides procedures for determining if a foreign custody order should be enforced by another country.
The United States is a signatory to this Convention but the Convention will only apply if the other country involved also is a signatory to the Convention. The convention has very specific procedures that must be followed in international custody disputes so it is necessary to work with an attorney familiar with these procedures. If the other country involved in the custody dispute is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, it likely will be necessary to work with an attorney in the foreign country to determine if a U.S. Custody order can be registered and enforced in the foreign country.