A multilateral treaty ratified by 98 countries called the Hague Convention contains articles that apply to international child custody disputes. A parent in Connecticut concerned about access to children after ending a relationship with a parent from a different country might have rights through the Hague Convention. If the dispute involves two countries that have signed the treaty, then the Hague Convention states that the custody laws in the country where a child habitually resides will have authority over the case.

According to Article 3 of the Hague Convention, children removed from the country where they normally live must be returned to that country as soon as possible after wrongful removal. Wrongful removal occurs when a parent takes a child out of the country without the other parent’s permission and in violation of that parent’s rights.

Because the normal location of a child’s residence often establishes applicable custody laws, a parent in the United States might have to contend with a foreign country’s rules. This can be especially worrisome for unwed fathers if their children are in a country that does not recognize the paternity of unmarried fathers. A custody dispute involving a country that has not acknowledged the Hague Convention complicates a parent’s position as well.

International relationships have become commonplace in a world where people often live in different countries. A parent who needs to assert custody rights or possibly retrieve children from a foreign country may want legal advice right away. A timely response to an international custody dispute might allow a parent to avoid a negative outcome. A family law attorney may gather facts about the case and provide an opinion about how the parent should proceed. An attorney might then petition applicable courts to protect a parent’s rights and represent the person during court hearings.