Child custody is one of those issues in a divorce that can turn an amicable divorce into a nasty one, especially when an ex-spouse decides that they want to move their life overseas.
Of course, if both spouses agree, there is not an issue, but if not, moving a child thousands of miles away is a huge issue.
When your divorce is finalized, there is usually some language in your child custody order that relates to parenting time and where the child can reside.
Sometimes, the child can reside within the court’s jurisdiction, within a city, county or within a state. Sometimes, there is other limiting language about vacations and so on, depending on the familial or work connections of each parent.
If a parent has international connections, there may be specific language about not taking the child overseas without specific approval. However, this may not be enough to proactively stop them.
Can my soon-to-be ex-spouse take our kids overseas?
It depends. If you are still married, then your soon-to-be ex-spouse does not have any limitations on where they can take the child. If you are in the middle of a divorce, unless there is some court order limiting the child’s location, likewise, there may not be a geographic limitation.
Ask the judge for such a limitation if you think they plan on taking your child overseas. Remember, because of the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, law enforcement needs a specific court order blocking international travel. The divorce decree or child custody order may not be enough.
You can get this order in the divorce process or if you later have suspicion that your ex will take the child.
There are several agencies that can help you with international parental kidnapping. The U.S. Department of State, the FBI, your local police department, airport police, the airlines themselves, etc. In fact, even after you call law enforcement, you still should call the airlines and other travel providers directly.
The United States does not have automatic or national exit control. This means that you will need to call travel providers directly, inquire about your child and possibly cancel their tickets directly.
You should ask your law enforcement contacts whether they want you to cancel those tickets or how best to proceed. And, your Florida divorce attorney can be a point of contact during this entire traumatic time.