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Michigan Senate passes law focusing on child custody disputes

The Michigan Senate recently approved legislation that may have a large impact on family law issues within the state and even around the world. The legislation focuses on child custody issues and would prevent a parent involved in a custody dispute from removing the child to a country outside of the jurisdiction of the Hague Convention.

The Senate unanimously approved the legislation and sent the bill to the House. The representative who sponsored the bill touted its content. He believes the legislation helps address the issue of international child abduction. In order to remove a child to a country that is not part of the Hague Convention, both parents of the child would need to give written permission to the court.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was established to ensure that the child custody arrangement that existed before a wrongful removal is the one that stands. In countries that are not a party to the Convention, children may never be returned, especially if those countries lack women's rights.

In Michigan, child custody is determined by looking at what is in the best interests of the child as well as a number of factors surrounding the abilities of the parents. Sometimes parents will agree on a plan. Other times, custody is contested and it is left up to the court to decide who is granted custody. It is during these disputes that children may be removed to other countries by parents who fear losing custody. If enacted, this new law may help protect these children.

Source: Midland Daily News, "Moolenaar child custody bill OK'd by Senate, heading to House," Oct. 28, 2012

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