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I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

International child custody litigation presents difficulties

Both during and after a divorce, child custody can be a difficult question for some parents in Massachusetts. The determination as to which parent a child should live with is often the subject of heated debate during the divorce process. Once child custody is awarded to a parent, however, in many cases there can be no relocation of the child without the consent of the court or the other parent.

A parent who has primary custody may request that a court approve a move away from the other parent, though the reasons typically concern a new career opportunity or other economic benefit. In such cases, the custodial parent must convince a court that the move is necessary and that the modification to the parenting plan is in the best interests of the child.

Massachusetts readers may be interested to learn about a recent case where a man is accused of removing his children from the country without the permission of the court or the children's mother. The man took the children to his native Gaza, ostensibly for his sister's wedding. However, he remained in Gaza with the children and has refused to return. The mother, who was born in the United States, consented to the children going to Gaza for the wedding, but claims that she never assented to having the children leave the country permanently.

In this case, the man has now been charged with crimes relating to the removal of the children. It may be difficult for the mother to get the children back, however, because the man took the children to Gaza, which is not party to The Hague Convention treaty concerning international child abductions.

Source: Associated Press, "US claims father illegally moved kids to Gaza," May 2, 2012.

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Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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