Citizens of the world today enjoy unprecedented access to locations around the globe. It does not take much for a person who makes their home in New York to spend just as much time in places as far away as Germany. But with this increased access to global destinations, there is also a rise in cases of parents relocating to other countries with their children to secure sole custody of the child for themselves.

Family law professionals have used a hypothetical scenario similar to the following to illustrate the complexity of these situations: A woman who was born in Germany moves to the United States as an adult and relocates to the country’s eastern coast. While in America, she meets her husband, and two children result from the union. The joy of marriage wears off years later, and the wife decides to return to Europe with the children without her husband’s knowledge.

While this scenario may seem like a Hollywood movie plot, similar happenings take place regularly. The first step in resolving this type of problem is identifying which country’s laws will determine the ensuing custody dispute. To do so, parents must understand the parameters set forth by the Hague Convention.

A total of 98 countries ratified the treaty resulting from the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction summit at the Hague Convention. The 2018 agreement paves the way for the fast return of children who are taken from one country to another by one parent acting without the permission of the other parent. The Hague Convention also determined that the country lived in by the child before being taken will have jurisdiction regarding child custody rights when that country is the established “habitual residence” of the child.

Child custody disputes are never easy to handle, but these disputes become much more complicated when one parent unexpectedly relocates to another country with the children. Individuals involved with a child custody dispute may have a better chance of a favorable outcome with the help of a family law attorney.