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Parental relocation matters may extend beyond national borders

It is never easy to make the decision to divorce when children are involved. Child custody and associated issues can be difficult at the best of times. What may prove more complex are the times when California residents find themselves engaged in custodial issues and parental relocation matters involving significant geographical distance between the two parties.

One couple, who separated some years ago, disagreed about the country in which their daughter should permanently reside. The father and daughter were both American by birth, though the mother was born in Ireland. Shortly after their separation, the mother expressed the desire to move back to her home country in order to study at university, and the father agreed. At that time, both parents acknowledged this arrangement as a "trial period," and a pattern formed where the child was able to maintain strong relationships by spending time with extended family on both sides of the ocean on a regular basis. This continued for a period of three years.

At one point, the mother interrupted her daughter's schooling so that they could visit the mother's boyfriend. The girl's father traveled to Ireland to bring the child home permanently to California, and at first, the girl's mother was in agreement with this arrangement -- even exploring the possibility of relocating herself to California. As time passed, however, she decided that she wished to remain in Ireland, with her daughter, and filed legal papers against the father. A judge ruled that the parents had agreed that the move to Ireland was temporary and, in turn, meant that the child's habitual residence was California.

The mother plans to appeal this decision, as she believes that her daughter has come to consider Ireland as her home. There are laws in place which safeguard against parental kidnapping, and if parental relocation matters take such a dramatic turn, it is important to seek appropriate advice and guidance. On the international stage, many countries are signatories to a treaty that addresses these important issues. Child custody decisions of this nature may be made based on determining a child's habitual residence, parental agreements already in place relating to location and/or possibly on how much of an emotional attachment the child has developed to a particular place of residence. Ultimately, it is what is in the best interest of the child that should prevail.

Source: sfgate.com, "Girl in overseas parental tug-of-war ordered to stay in Bay Area", Bob Egelko, Aug. 25, 2014

Source: sfgate.com, "Girl in overseas parental tug-of-war ordered to stay in Bay Area", Bob Egelko, Aug. 25, 2014

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