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Custody agreements are enforceable internationally

Divorced people in Texas who are involved in child custody disputes with their former spouses may be aware that child custody agreements are enforceable across state lines. They may not be aware that child custody orders are enforceable internationally. A woman discovered this when she took her children from California to Europe. Her children were reunited with their respective fathers after having been separated from them for 18 months.

The mother of the children was arrested in France after violating a California child custody order that had allowed her to take the children on a trip to Europe for one month. When she did not return and could not be contacted, an international arrest warrant was issued. The fathers of the children allege that the woman violated both the letter and the spirit of the law by severing contact and by attempting to disguise the children's identities. The children were registered at a school in France under false names. The French court that ordered the children returned to the United States mentioned that the best interests of the children included maintaining relationships with both parents.

When the woman appeared in court in France, she talked about being wearied by litigation involving child custody. She felt that one of the children would not be safe with his father, but she did not believe she could convince a court in California to modify the father's visitation. She foresaw endless litigation ahead of her. The French court released her on bail pending extradition to the United States, though she may return to California on her own.

Anyone considering divorce may wish to speak to an attorney about the many options available regarding relocation, visitation and child custody agreement modification.

Source: Huffington Post, "Fathers Reunited With Their Kids 18 Months After Kidnapping", Brenda Gazzar, December 29, 2013

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