International Family Law Issues

Our world is smaller now than ever before. Advances in technology and transportation have made it easy for people to travel overseas for work, to buy property or to permanently relocate. It has also become more common for family law disputes to have international aspects.

Marital assets may be located abroad, a spouse may work in a foreign nation or a spouse may not be a U.S. citizen. When a divorce occurs under these circumstances, international law can have a great impact on how the case proceeds. International family law issues require lawyers who are confident and skilled in working through complex international law issues as well as domestic law.

Different countries have different requirements in international divorces. While many countries honor U.S. court rulings, some do not. In cases involving overseas military divorces, the financial and child custody arrangements that are put in place will depend on whether a country has enforceable treaties with the United States regarding such matters. How property and child custody are viewed in an Asian or Middle Eastern court may be quite different than in the U.S. As a result, it may be necessary to involve the State Department or U.S. Embassy officials in your case.

Determining custody and visitation rights in cases involving families living outside of the United States or where one spouse is from another country can be complicated. While there is a body of international law - including the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and various country-specific treaties - which govern aspects of divorce and child custody determinations, asserting and defending parental rights requires an attorney experienced in international family law.

In the United States, the court will always award custody based on what it believes to be in the best interests of a child. In doing so, the court will consider the financial, employment, health and personal situation of each parent. If the court believes it is best to award custody to a non-citizen spouse, you can still retain visitation rights enforceable under U.S. law. If abduction is a concern, our attorneys can request that a child's passport be held until custody is determined or that duplicate passports not be made.

International child custody rights are often enforced according to treaties held between countries such as the Hague Convention which determines where a custody determination will be made. How custody is awarded or viewed, can be affected by country-specific laws, and by where a divorce was granted. In cases where no treaty exists or divorce laws are radically different, obtaining child custody may require the involvement of the State Department and the local U.S. embassy.

At the law office of Maddox & Gerock, P.C., we work with law enforcement, local courts, embassies and the State Department in cases involving international child custody disputes. Whether you are facing an international divorce or are currently trying to exert your parental rights in a foreign nation, we have the experience and resources to help you.

Some of the cases we handle involve:

  • International child abduction
  • International prenuptial agreements
  • Division of land and other property in foreign nations
  • Assisting in the recovery of hidden assets, including those in offshore accounts
  • Issues arising when a parent wants to relocate to a foreign country
  • Enforcing foreign judgments in the U.S. and enforcing U.S. judgments abroad
  • International child custody and visitation

Contact Our Experienced Family Law Attorneys

To schedule a consultation, please call our Falls Church/Fairfax County office at 703-883-8035 or send us an email .