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When your child custody dispute crosses the border

Unfortunately, some married couples’ relationships deteriorate to the point that their divorce is difficult and combative. Tempers can especially run high over the question of child custody. In extreme cases, one parent defies the parenting plan and leaves the state with the child, or even flees the U.S. entirely.

This can leave the parent who followed the law cut off from their child, a distressing and painful situation for just about any Mom or Dad.

International child custody disputes can be lengthy and complicated, but many countries are members of an international treaty known as the Hague Convention. Signatory countries to the Hague Convention basically agree to abide by the same rules regarding orders issued by other members’ courts. This can make it easier to enforce child custody orders across a border.

In Buffalo, so near the Canadian border, this convention often takes on special meaning. Both Canada and the U.S. are members of the Hague Convention, as are 70 other countries and the European Union. An additional 69 countries are not members of the portion of the convention dealing with private international law, but have contracted to one or more of the Hague Conventions.

Besides child kidnappings, a former spouse might flee the U.S. over a spousal support or child support dispute. Once he or she is found outside the country, it can take time for the authorities in the host country to enforce the disputed court order, but by adhering to the proper procedure and with patience, justice can prevail.