International Child Custody in Michigan and Beyond

Child and parent holding globe

Unique and complex legal concerns often arise in international family law cases. Sometimes a noncustodial parent abducts a child and takes the child to another country. Other times, a parent residing in Michigan wants to relocate with the children or has to respond to an action filed in another state or country.

The first question in these cases is always one of jurisdiction - where should the action be filed? Not knowing the answer to this question can cost a client precious time and a lot of money. Many international child custody cases involve the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). These cases may also involve the 1980 Hague Convention. Despite these laws being in place, matters involving international child custody are rarely straightforward. This is because even though some countries are signatories to the Hague Convention, they may not actually comply with its provisions.

What to Look for in an International Child Custody Attorney

If you find yourself needing help with an international child custody case or are thinking of filing for divorce in which international issues will arise, you no doubt already understand just how complex these issues can be. And with your ability to be a part of your children's lives on the line, you know how high the stakes are. For these important matters, you need the help of an attorney who brings more to your case than just an understanding of the UCCJEA and other laws; while understanding the law is a good start, the attorney you select also needs to:

  • Know how specific procedural and jurisdictional/venue-related issues will affect your case
  • Work with attorneys in other countries (typically either the country where the client lives or to which the other parent absconded with the child)
  • Recognize which experts (psychologists, other attorneys, etc.) are needed to assist the client
  • Advise you about whether it is better to pre-file a motion to prevent a child custody issue from arising
  • Help you decide whether a particular jurisdiction (if proper) is better for filing than another
  • Use her or his knowledge of the law to advocate effectively in federal court

At Schwartz Law Firm, we do all of this and more for our clients. We understand that dealing with an international family law case of any kind can be exceptionally stressful, so we will work diligently to seek a favorable resolution as expediently as possible.

Our International Child Custody Experience

International flags

Schwartz Law Firm is equipped to handle interstate and international child custody matters. We have represented clients from Michigan, California, New Mexico, Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina and many other states across the nation, as well as clients from:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • The Netherlands
  • Brazil
  • England
  • India
  • Dubai/the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Japan
  • And many other countries

To speak to an international family law attorney, contact our firm today.

Examples of Our International Custody Work

  • Filing a paternity action on behalf of a client living in Dubai and obtaining an order for sole legal and physical custody of the children. We procured certification of those orders as new birth certificates for registration and use in the UAE.
  • Asking the court to set aside the child custody and support provisions of a Judgment of Divorce obtained in Michigan when the case should have been filed in the Netherlands. Our motion was granted.
  • Filing a motion to dismiss a divorce action filed in Michigan when the client (mother) and the minor child reside in Australia. The parties had met online and the client lived here for a while after marriage, but returned to Australia when the relationship failed. The husband filed in the wrong jurisdiction.
  • Helping a client in Brazil address a child support issue. Despite the 4,000-plus miles between Brazil and Michigan, we were able to reach an out-of-court settlement on our client's behalf.

Parental Kidnapping

Child at airport

Are you concerned about the possibility of international parental abduction? Parents can contact the U.S. State Department's Children's Passport Alert System to prevent issuance of passports for minor children who are the subject of custody disputes. The details can be found on the department's website. Pre-emptive action must be taken, however, because once a passport has been issued, the department will not be able to prevent its use in removing a child from the United States.

Is your child missing? Visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website to view a checklist of what to do if your child is missing.

Parental kidnapping is a felony in Michigan, and the statute states that the offense has been committed once a parent has withheld a child from the other parent for more than 24 hours after the child was supposed to be returned.

Under the Hague Convention, actions involving the recovery of children who have been kidnapped and moved to another country must be filed in the country to which the children were taken. For example, if a child was abducted by one parent and brought to Michigan, the action to recover the child must be filed in the proper Michigan-based court or the request will be considered invalid.


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Contact an International Child Custody Attorney

To learn more about international family law matters, contact our office to schedule an initial consultation. Based in the Detroit area (Farmington Hills), we serve clients in Michigan and across the globe.

A note about attorney fees: Attorney fees are routinely granted under the UCCJEA for parents violating parenting time and/or custody orders.