I am a legal resident of the United States of America and I have a 3 year old daughter currently living in Mexico. The mother has informed me that she can no longer take care of our daughter and gave me full custody of her.
I need to bring her to the United States, but I am afraid for her safety. Can I just bring my daughter to live with me in the US, or is there a process for this?
DadsDivorce does not have the ability to address any immigration law issues related to your question. Assuming that you may legally bring your daughter into the United States, whether you may exercise custody over your daughter will depend upon the legal status of your relationship with your daughter.
If you were divorced from her mother in the U.S. or had a paternity court order entered in the U.S. and the mother was awarded custody, you will now need to seek an order changing the custody to you. As you advise, the mother agrees to you having custody, obtaining an agreed order to change custody may be fairly simple.
If you were never married to the mother and did not obtain a paternity order from a U.S. court, there may be jurisdictional complications in obtaining a court order now that mother lives in Mexico.
If you are still married to the mother or the mother is willing to give you guardianship of the child, you may be able to exercise custody of the child by agreement until such time as the mother changes her mind and wants the child back. The nature and form of the paperwork to implement custody without a divorce or paternity order will depend upon the specific circumstances of your case.
You will need to consult with a qualified family law attorney and possibly an immigration law attorney to determine the specific procedures and/or court orders you will need to obtain formal custody of your child in the U.S. such that the mother’s ability to seek the return of the child later for less than valid reasons will be limited.
Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.
Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.