I do not know if you are following the Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner divorce like I am, but the most recent development is that the couple are scheduled to start four-day mediation over custody and parenting plan for their young daughters. I would love to discuss their choice to mediate, but today’s discussion is about their international custody dispute.
Many family law firms shy away from international divorce and custody as the area is a niche area of law, but we often deal with the complications of international custody. In this current case, Joe wants the children to reside in New York City and Sophie wants them to reside in United Kingdom. We will be discussing the nuts-and-bolts details of international disputes in which one parent lives in Ohio and the other United Kingdom.
First, with international custody, the first step is to have the children primarily living in your residence (Ohio) for at least six months. In Ohio (and 48 other states in the United States), the Courts follow the UCCJEA (Uniform Child Custody jurisdiction and Enforcement Act). The UCCJEA helps resolve interstate custody disputes and avoids jurisdictional competition with courts of other jurisdictions in custody matters.
Many countries also follow UCCJEA, and the United States will treat another country as a “home state” if the country has been a primarily residence of the children for the past sixty days. There IS an exception to the sixty-day requirement if the child and/or parent is in danger, then the Court will likely waive the sixty-day requirement to keep the child or children safe.
UCCJEA also assists in situations where parents wrongfully abduct children across state lines, UCCJEA will require the children be returned to his, her, or their home state. On an international level, the Hague Convention protects international abductions and requires children to reside in their “home country” (the country they primarily reside).
The Hague Convention also allows an avenue for parents living in different countries to negotiate and enforce parent time and support orders so children can be protected and see both parents over international borders.
Many countries are members of the Hague Convention including United States and United Kingdom. In the Jonas/Turner custody dispute, they will rely heavily on UCCJEA and Hague Convention to negotiate rights and obligations with their children now and in the future.