Custody disputes are almost always complicated, but when international issues are also present, the situation is that much more complex. Custody disputes between New Jersey residents and another parent who lives outside of the United States have become much more common over the years. Often this occurs because one parent is relocated for work, or chooses to move for other reasons. When these types of cases arise, you need an attorney who has many years of experience working for clients to resolve these types of issues. These cases involve New Jersey law, federal law, and often the laws of other countries as well. An experienced lawyer can help ensure your needs are met and your rights as a parent are protected.
If you need assistance with an international custody arrangement now or in the future, the experienced attorneys at the Lento Law Firm are here and ready to help you.
International Custody Attorney in New Jersey
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent many years fighting passionately for clients to protect their rights as a parent. He is a skillful negotiator and can make efforts to get the results you want diplomatically when possible. When it is not, he is a proven fighter who knows the law and will put it to use for you. You have rights as a parent, and they deserve protection.
If you need assistance with an international custody issue in New Jersey and need comprehensive, customized legal representation, contact the attorneys at Lento Law Firm. Joseph Lento built his practice on the ideals of customer service and justice and he will fight for your rights as a parent. Call (888) 535-3686 today to schedule your consultation and discover what Joseph Lento can do for you.
International Custody: What You Need to Know
Custody disputes are common in divorce situations and often continue well after the divorce has been finalized and initial custody decisions are settled. These conversations are ongoing, and disputes often occur right up until the child or children reach the age of 18. Whether your children are subject to shared custody, sole custody, or joint custody arrangement, situations can change that require new agreements. When the parents cannot agree, this creates significant issues, especially when one parent is out of the country and wants custody of the child.
Courts determine custody arrangements based on the best interest of the child, including factors such as:
- Cooperativeness of the parents
- Child's interaction with siblings
- Needs of the child
- Proximity of the parents to one another
- How much time the child spent with parents before separation
- History of domestic violence
- Safety of the child from abuse
- Ages of the children
- Parental employment
- Preference of the child (if they are old enough)
This does not change simply because international custody is the issue, rather than traditional in-state or in-country custody disputes. However, international disputes tend to have other considerations that a judge must take into account, such as:
- significant traveling distances for visitation
- high travel costs
- extended parenting times
- interruptions to education schedule
- whether a residential parent can move out of the country, considering the effect it has on the parent remaining in the U.S.
These important considerations are not easy to deal with, but with the help of your experienced New Jersey family law attorney, you will have your rights protected.
The International Parental Kidnapping Act
Many international custody disputes occur when a child has been "kidnapped" in violation of international law. These issues arise when:
- the child was wrongfully removed or retained
- the removal or retention was in violation of the other parent's custody rights
- the other parent would have been exercising his or her rights if not for the wrongful acts of the other parent
Under federal law, it is a crime for a parent to remove "a child from the United States, or attempt to do so, or retain a child (who has been in the United States) outside of the United States with no intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.” Under this federal law, a "child" is defined as a person under the age of 16.
When a parent removes or retains a child in this way, and does so in a different country, those actions implicate this federal law. Those convicted under this statute can face up to three (3) years in prison for their actions.
The Hague Convention
The Hague Convention is an international treaty that creates a judicial mechanism for parents to exercise and protect their rights in order to have the wrongfully removed or retained child returned to the United States. Article 3 of the Convention requires that member countries promptly return children to their country of habitual residence if they are wrongfully removed or retained.
This Convention can help to protect your rights as a parent in the event your child is wrongfully removed or retained in another country.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
The UCCJEA is a New Jersey law that provides for the enforcement of the provisions of the Hague Convention. It gives jurisdictional power to New Jersey courts to handle these situations and defines the procedure by which these cases are handled. This is a critically important law to understand when dealing with an international custody issue, but it can be difficult to understand for an inexperienced lawyer.
With the help of an experienced lawyer, you can fight for your parental custody rights under the statute by applying to the "Central Authority" in New Jersey to get an order for the immediate return of the child. If your custody rights have been impinged as the result of the wrongful actions of the other parent taking or keeping the child in another country, there are ways to enforce your rights.
Defending Your Case
If you face charges under the International Kidnapping Act, Joseph Lento is a highly experienced criminal defense attorney who can represent your rights not only on the family law side but also on the criminal side. Many of these cases are misunderstandings or done in the heat of the moment. With a powerful defense, you can protect your constitutional rights, and seek to avoid the potential prison time you could face under federal law.
New Jersey International Custody Attorney
Joseph D. Lento is well-versed in international custody law. He will inform you of your options in international custody predicaments, protect your rights, and help you understand and navigate the court system. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.