Complicated Family Law that Know No Borders
For more than 60 years, companies based in the United States and elsewhere around the world have been transferring executives and managers to overseas offices and plants. In an eerier era, the spouse and family would dutifully follow along; indeed, there was a period when many American businesses wouldn’t award a foreign assignment to a single executive or even one whose family ties were deemed suspect – for reasons that weren’t very clear then and seem even murkier today.
The 1960s Hollywood comedy One, Two, Three! starring an aging Jimmy Cagney and a very young Horst Buchholtz captured laughs and an Oscar, but it was losing track of the changing nature of business, divorce, and the what happens when cross-cultural couples marry.
Today, of course, what once was a situation rife for laughs is an everyday occurrence. Not only do companies transfer single managers and executives of both sexes to foreign assignments, where many meet, fall in love and marry locals, but the internet has opened the possibility of cross-border and international love affairs totally separate from business that lead to new families and babies – as well as a host of potential problems if the multi-national marriage begins falling apart.
One of the great pleasures I find in my practice is helping clients overcome very complex and complicated family law challenges that often know no borders, and protecting my client’s interests on a worldwide basis.
International Divorce has Many Moving Parts
International divorce, child custody, and support issues often are governed by a myriad of conflicting treaties, conventions, and local laws. Helping to explain what, at times, seems unexplainable is one reason why I wrote the article, International Child Abduction: Essential Principles Of The Hague Convention.
The problem is that the issue of cross-border family law disputes comes with countless moving parts. The laws of state or provincial governments along with those of foreign countries and international treaties such as The Hague Convention may play a role in resolving a family law disputes. Moreover, jurisdictional issues, cultural and religious differences, and language barriers all come into play, as well.
When a marriage ends in divorce and both people live in, say, Minnesota, the process is simplified because both spouses and the children are in one jurisdiction. There’s no question which laws apply, nor on how things such as custody, child support, and division of marital property will be handled.
When a couple lives in more than one country, we have to determine the legal landscape as the first step in developing a creative, strategic solution that leads to the best possible outcome for you and your children.
Custody, Support and Visitation
When minor children are involved in a multi-national divorce, issues involving custody, visitation, and support can become contentious and very complicated.
If one of the former spouses has taken a child to a country that has signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, it can lead to a better outcome as member countries are required to order the return of children to their habitual residence. While serious issues arise when a parent and child are not resident in a Hague Convention nation and refuses to recognize an order from a foreign court, there can be complicated issues even when a country is a member of the Hague Convention. Not all countries are in compliance with following the terms of the Hague Convention and the analysis of the child’s habitual residence is fact specific and often highly disputed. When a child is removed from Minnesota to another country, one of the first steps is to obtain a custody order from the Minnesota court that declares Minnesota the child’s home state under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
We also represent U.S.-based parents who do not want to return their children to the country of residence after coming to America. We work closely with a client to determine whether they can assert an exception to The Hague Convention so the child can remain in the United States.
There’s no question that every divorce – even our simple, Friendly Divorce – brings with it a myriad of complicated, often painful issues that a couple must deal with as they go through the process. When issues of jurisdiction, residency, and conflicting national laws and cultural traditions come into play, one of our roles as your attorney is to not only guide you through the legal landscape, but to also map out a strategy that helps protect and enforce your rights and assist you in accomplishing the best possible outcome for you and your children.