I was reading an article this week regarding an interview actress Kelly Rutherford gave relative to the international custody trial she has partaken in. She was very emotional and deeply disturbed by the fact that she is unable to have her two young minor children return to the United States. (They currently live in France with their father, and she sees them, but is not able to travel back to the United States with them.) She claims she is broke and has spent all of her money trying to fight these custody issues.
While I am not saying that Ms. Rutherford’s case is necessarily of this instance, the issue of removal after moving to a foreign jurisdiction is something parties generally don’t learn about until it is too late. This often becomes very problematic for those involved. A child must reside in a place for a period of six (6) months, and after that period of time has passed, that location is considered to be the child’s “home state”. This is the place where an initial custody determination is proper. Periods of temporary absence from said location do not count as the tolling of a new six (6) month period for establishing a new home state.
Additionally, once a jurisdiction determines custody of a minor child, that jurisdiction typically has what is called “continuing exclusive jurisdiction” to enforce and modify the custody judgment, unless that jurisdiction is taken away. Parties cannot remove a minor child permanently from their home state without a court order or consent of the other parent. The bottom line is, wherever you deliver your child, you should be pretty comfortable with staying in that location until the child is eighteen years of age. You won’t be able to remove the child and move elsewhere unless the other party agrees or unless a Court awards you removal of the minor child. This can be an expensive and emotionally tolling battle. The unfortunate part is that most people don’t realize that this is what the law provides until they are stuck in this situation.