Berman & Asbel, LLP

Child custody issues complicated by dual citizenship

Pennsylvania parents who are in the process of divorce from a partner with dual citizenship have a unique set of legal challenges to confront. Issues of divorce and child custody become far more complex when one or both parties hold citizenship in a country other than the United States. In these situations, an aggressive and timely legal approach may be imperative for a successful outcome.

In terms of filing for divorce or child custody, the first party to file will often determine where those proceedings will take place. While the other party can always challenge issues of jurisdiction, getting in front of a judge in one country goes a long way toward keeping the proceeding in that jurisdiction. This can be instrumental in a successful outcome, depending on the laws of the country in which one files.

In addition, child custody can become particularly contentious when one parent wishes to remove the child to another country. While there are provisions in place to avoid parental abduction, it can be very difficult and expensive to pursue legal action in another country, especially if one parent remains in the U.S. The Hague Conference on Private International Law gives signatory nations some guidance on how to handle issues of international child custody cases.

When it comes to dissolving a Pennsylvania marriage that involves dual citizenship, preparation and proper legal guidance is key. Even the most simple divorce or child custody action involving an international scenario is more complicated than one in which jurisdiction is not an issue. Once the proceeding is underway, attention can be turned to the details of the split.

Source: Reuters, "Divorce in two countries is double the trouble," Geoff Williams, Oct. 24, 2012

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