Sharing Custody and Placement in Different Countries under a Wisconsin Order
Sharing custody and placement can be complicated under any circumstances, but when parents live in different countries, these matters are far from routine. When decisions about these issues have been made in a Wisconsin court and will be carried out across an international border, there can be challenges. Here are some considerations about sharing custody and placement in different countries under a Wisconsin order.
When a court has child custody jurisdiction, it will be able to make certain legal decisions about a child. Anytime the parents want to modify placement or custody; they will do so in the same Wisconsin court that issued the initial parenting plan and orders. There can be circumstances that would cause the court to lose its jurisdiction, however. Wisconsin, like most other states, follows the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA sets out conditions under which a Wisconsin court could lose its jurisdiction to make decisions over a child. When parents are sharing time with their children in different countries, there can be certain acts that could result in a change of jurisdiction.
Designing the Order
As you and your ex make choices about how to parent your children from two different countries, you are going to make some practical decisions. For instance, although Wisconsin law favors joint custody and equal parenting time, parents that live in different countries are probably not going to be operating in this manner. For instance, during the school year, it may make the most sense for one parent to have the children and primary decision-making authority regarding educational decisions and medical treatment. The other parent may have frequent video calls with the children during that time and then enjoy an extended placement period and primary custodial rights in the summer. Parents may also agree to confer about routine child custody decisions but defer to the placement parent's judgment for more immediate concerns.
Parents and children who live far away from one another are fortunate to be living in a time when there are numerous ways to remain in touch. Facetime, Skype, Hangouts, and other video call services have made it easier for families to stay in touch. Parents can set up a reasonable schedule in their parenting plan for maintaining regular video contact with their kids.
The Hague Convention
Ideally, parents will be able to share placement, as stated in their Wisconsin order. However, when one parent lives in another country, there may be a concern that he or she will not allow their child to return after the placement period. If this were to occur, the courts would consult the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction ("Hague Convention"). The Convention was created to help make sure children who have been abducted are returned to their proper country. This law looks at the child's “habitual residence” to decides which country’s courts will have jurisdiction.
International custody and placement can be feasible when the parties can be cooperative. However, when there are disputes concerning who should have the child and where they should live, matters can become complicated. If you have issues where international custody and placement are involved, it is essential that you consult with an experienced Wisconsin family law attorney.
Karyn Youso is an experienced Wisconsin family law attorney who can help you explore the issues and your concerns about international custody and placement. Our office understands and can help. Call today to set your appointment to talk about your situation.