International Child Custody Issues

International Child Custody 

As a parent, knowing where your children are and that they are safe is extremely important.  Having your child taken from you is devastating – especially if they are taken to another country.  A 2013 FBI study found that there is a rising number of non-custodial parents abducting their children from the custodial parent.  Some of these abduction cases result in the child being injured or killed. We have extensive experience with international child custody cases.  For help, call (248) 479-6200 or contact us online.

If your child has been taken from you, you will want to act quickly and have the best legal representation available.  International child custody and parental child abduction cases can become very complex, time consuming, and costly.  Not all law firms are able to handle these complex and sensitive cases.  International child custody and parental abduction cases often involve the laws of Michigan, the United States, and foreign countries.  The legal team at The Kronzek Firm PLC has litigated numerous international child custody and abduction cases and has the experience needed to help get your child back.

Michigan Custody Laws

In general, the Child Custody Act of 1970 governs child custody in Michigan.  If there is a custody dispute, the court will determine who should have custody of the child.  The court makes this decision by considering the child’s best interest.  Some of the factors the courts consider are the love, affection, and other emotional ties between the parents and the child, the ability of the parents to care for the child, the length and permanence of a stable family environment, and the moral and physical fitness of the parents.  Once the court determines custody, both parents and other courts must follow the custody order.  Depending on the situation, courts may even recognize and enforce child-custody determinations made in another country.

Changing the Custody Agreement

If a parent wants to change the custody agreement or the residence of their child, the parent must get either the court’s approval or the other parent’s consent. This can be a difficult task, especially when the custody determination was made in a foreign county.  In that situation, the laws of the foreign country may apply when attempting to change the child’s residence or custody agreement.

International Parental Child Abductions

If the child is removed from or kept out of the United States in violation of a court order, an international child abduction has occurred.  If a child has been abducted and taken to a foreign country, multiple laws may apply, including the laws of foreign countries. On top of these laws, several countries have signed an agreement, the Hague Convention, to help create a standardized process to return children who have been abducted.

If you are dealing with an international child abduction, you need a lawyer who is not only familiar with Michigan’s child custody laws, but also international child custody laws. Our attorneys have the familiarity and experience you need.  Contact us online or call (248) 479-6200.

Hague Convention

Approximately 76 countries have signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention).  The Hague Convention was established to, “protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return.”  The Hague Convention, however, only applies when the child is taken to or kept in a country that has also signed the Hague Convention. Each country that has signed the Hague Convention has set up a “Central Authority” to handle all international child abductions.

According to the Hague Convention, a child is wrongfully removed or retained when the child has been taken to a country in violation of a custody agreement or a parent’s right of custody.  When a child has been wrongfully taken from the United States, the parent or attorney must report the abduction to the Central Authority.  The parent or attorney can either contact the Central Authority in the United States or in the country the child was taken to.

Once the Central Authority is contacted, it must take action to discover the location of the child, prevent further harm to the child, provide information regarding the child, and facilitate the child’s return through their country’s judicial process.  Although the Hague Convention requires countries to act quickly to return your child, it could take several weeks, or even months, before they are returned.

Even though it could take months before you child is returned after an international abduction, you must act quickly.  If more than a year has passed since your child has been taken to or kept in another country, it may be more difficult and take more time to get your child back.  If more than a year has passed, the country where your child has been taken to may not be required to send your child if they show that your child has “settled” in the new country.  You, or your attorney, must immediately contact the Central Authority to report the international abduction and get your child back as quick as possible.  We can help with this process. Call (248) 479-6200.

Non-Hague Convention Countries

If the child is taken to a country that has not signed the Hague Convention, the process of getting your child back becomes more difficult, time consuming, and costly.  The United States has numerous laws to prevent international parental kidnappings and locate missing children including the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, and Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Although these laws provide some guidance, they have little to no authority over international parental abduction cases.  If your child is taken to or kept in a country that has not signed the Hague Convention, you will need an attorney who has the skill to handle these incredibly complicated cases.

Oakland County Custody – Parental Abduction Attorneys

Whether you are trying to change an international child custody agreement or have your child returned to you after they have been abducted, you need a skilled legal team experienced in these specialized and highly complex cases.  Contact the attorneys at The Kronzek Firm PLC, today to see how we can help.


CALL (248) 479-6200