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International relocation can pose serious child custody problems

Many people who go through a divorce in Ohio know that child custody can be a contentious issue. With which parent a child lives is one of the most emotional decisions that many couples face during a divorce. Child custody decisions can sometimes be reached by negotiation between the parties, but when they cannot agree, a court steps in and determines what it believes is in the best interests of the children.

After a divorce is final, child custody concerns can create ongoing issues, particularly when one party seemingly acts against the custody provisions made in the divorce judgment. In some cases, one parent seeks to relocate with the child after a divorce. In Ohio and elsewhere, relocation typically cannot take place without the approval of the other parent or a court. When a custodial parent wishes to seek to relocate a child to another jurisdiction or another country, he or she generally must petition the court for approval, absent a written agreement.

In one recent case, a father took his children out of the country with the intent to relocate to his native Gaza without first receiving permission from their mother or the court, though he claims to have received permission from the mother. In the couple's divorce decree, the father was allowed to relocate the children with permission of the mother. However, she says she did not give him permission to move to Gaza with the kids, even though she did agree he could take them there to attend his sister's wedding. The father has now been criminally charged with aggravated interference with parental custody.

Regrettably, Gaza is not a signatory to The Hague Convention treaty concerning the wrongful removal or retention of children in violating of a custody order. As such, the mother has scant legal basis to seek return of the children, absent cooperation from the government of Gaza. While it remains to be seen whether the mother can bring political pressure on the government in Gaza to force the return of her children, the case is a sad testament to the need for caution in addressing these child custody issues.

Source: Fox News, "US claims father illegally moved kids to Gaza," May 2, 2012

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