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Focus: international child custody disputes, considerations

Family law issues in a divorce, whether in Florida or elsewhere, can range from one or just a couple matters that are resolvable without undue difficulty to more intractable and complex matters that require close consultation with an experienced divorce attorney.

Child custody is commonly a case in point, with custody being an area where disputes can frequently arise concerning visitation and other matters. As this blog has noted, things can be especially problematic when international boundaries and the governing law of different nations come into conflict.

International child custody disputes can be flatly sticky, given the obvious problems arising from inconsistent court opinions, the enforcement of rulings, cultural attitudes regarding parental roles and child rearing, religion, and other factors.

One such factor centers on whether a nation is a signatory to The Hague Convention and its provisions addressing international child abduction.

Although the United States has signed that treaty, many other countries -- including most Arab and Muslim nations -- have not, and that simple fact has led to many complex custody battles across borders.

One child custody dispute that has recently received prominent media attention concerns the two sons of an American father who were taken by Egypt more than a decade ago by their mother. The U.S. State Department indicates that there are more than 20 similar cases involving Egypt, which is not a Hague signatory.

The father had sole legal custody of the couple's older son and, although the mother had custody of the younger child, a court order barred her from traveling with him absent the father's permission. Notwithstanding those limitations, the mother simply took the boys to Egypt in 2001, and they have not returned.

Egyptian courts have been non-responsive to American court orders. The father has not seen his children since they left.

An international marriage involving children and an impending divorce can, for obvious reasons, bring into play a number of complex factors not present in a purely domestic divorce matter. A family law attorney well-versed in child custody matters can respond to questions and concerns.

Source: CNN World, "Father helpless to bring kidnapped sons home from Egypt," Kyle Almond, David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin, April 12, 2013

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