BY: LORIE FOWLKE
(Please understand that the answers to these questions are general in nature and may not cover every individual situation.)
Yes, there can be many criminal aspects involved in international custody cases. In my particular case, the husband was charged with federal kidnapping in Brazil. One of the arguments he tried to make was that he cannot return to Brazil because there is a warrant for his arrest for kidnapping. The judge was unsympathetic, stating that he cannot reasonably expect the court to provide relief from a problem that he himself created.
I have handled cases in which there was concern that a parent was going to take a child across the border into Canada. In these situations, there are numbers to call and people to contact. In one case, a father attempted to bring his child across the border into Canada. Consequently, the child was picked up by Canadian Border Patrol and the father was criminally charged because he had violated the Federal Parenting Kidnapping Act by crossing state lines.
In another case, a father took a child out of school and drove out of state to Florida. We filed for an emergency restraining order which the court granted, and then I actually served it to the father via email. He responded later, stating that he was someplace halfway across the country. He ended up returning to the state and received the restraining order. If he had not returned to the state and if we knew he was located in or heading to Florida, we would have registered the order in Florida and had Florida law enforcement agents locate and detain him.
Most states have criminal statutes for parenting kidnapping, but they are usually misdemeanors. However, once a parent crosses state lines with a child, it is a whole different situation because a federal statute has been violated. If a parent takes a child internationally, they still violated a federal statute for kidnapping and will have to deal with the case on an international and civil level.
DOES YOUR FIRM HANDLE CASES INVOLVING ENFORCEMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT OR VISITATION INTERNATIONALLY?
There is a uniform child custody enforcement act as well as a uniform child support enforcement act that has been enacted in every state in the country. International cases are handled in the exact same way as interstate cases. So, in our case for Brazil, let us assume that the mother came to the United States to enforce the Brazilian decree and that we were at a point before the court allowed her to leave. The court ruled that Utah terminate its jurisdiction and the Brazilian decree be in effect, which meant she got custody because the Brazilian decree gave her custody. Had the mother stayed in Utah long enough, any support orders in the Brazilian decree would have been enforced by the state of Utah. Under the child custody act that every state has enacted, foreign countries are to be treated just like any other state. The trick is getting it registered in the state without objection or else getting the objections overruled. Once it is registered, it is treated like a local order. And since it is a foreign order, it can be enforced but not changed.
For more information on Criminal Aspect Of International Custody Cases, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 396-2967 today.