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International child custody dispute pending in federal court

Pennsylvania parents confronting international child custody issues may be interested in a federal trial just underway in a northeastern state. The child custody dispute got its start in 2006 when a Turkish court granted a divorce to a father and also awarded him custody of the two young children of the marriage. The mother, an American citizen, subsequently took the daughters and left the country, enlisting the help of a mercenary to whom her parents paid $70,000. After several years in hiding, she was granted the opportunity to return to the United States with the children and has since lived here with them.

The father contacted the U.S. Department of State as well as Interpol shortly after the mother fled. However, he did not know where the mother and children were until the year after she settled in the northeast. Once their location was discovered, the father began proceedings for the return of the children pursuant to The International Child Abduction Convention of The Hague.

The lawsuit is underway at a federal court in Concord, New Hampshire. The mother, a native of Michigan, settled in New Hampshire with the children in 2010. The judge presiding over the proceedings has already noted that the mother clearly acted outside the law. That does not, however, necessarily mean the father will prevail. If the court determines that sending the children back to Turkey will do them more harm than good, the judge could decide to allow them to remain in this country. He could also rule that the two girls must be returned to the father in Turkey.

Those parents in Pennsylvania that are confronting international child custody issues likely already realize the complexities involved. Each case is unique and often turns on the competing laws and procedures of the countries involved. The best first approach is surely to become familiar with the applicable laws in both jurisdictions, as well as the potential applicability of The International Child Abduction Convention of The Hague, a treaty that applies only to countries that are signatories. These types of legal proceedings often require professional assistance to properly navigate the appropriate avenues of legal relief.

Source: ctpost.com, "NH trial to begin in international custody case," Jan. 22, 2013

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