Can My Wife Leave The Country With Our Children

divorce lawyer Janet Yu JohnstonAsk A Lawyer Question:

My wife and I are having some trouble. We have not separated or filed for divorce. She is threatening to leave with our kids and move back to the country we moved here from. We as do our kids all have duel citizenship. Can she do that?

Ask A Lawyer Answer:

If your wife is threatening to take the kids from you and move to a different country, I would go ahead and meet with a divorce lawyer to see what precautions you can take. We have an office here in Kentucky, and we could discuss your case further with you.

You would need to file divorce, and then file a motion to prevent her from removing out of the state or county with the children. Another precaution that you can take in the meantime is to retain the children’s passports.

To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, including Janet Yu Johnston, an Associate Attorney in the Louisville, Kentucky office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

End of Content Icon

2 comments on “Can My Wife Leave The Country With Our Children

    Hague Convention
    When a child is involved in an international parental kidnapping dispute, the non-offending parent should look to the Hague Convention for guidance.

    The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty between countries that agree to cooperate and abide one set of laws, the Hague Convention, for the return of children removed from their home country for custody disputes.

    The complete list of all signatory countries is available online at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website. The United States became a signatory in 1981 and enacted the International Child Abduction Remedies Act to implement it in the United States.

    The Hague Convention seeks to simplify international cases, in which courts in different countries had been issuing conflicting orders, by reducing them to one issue: Where should the case take place?

    Signatories use the Hague Convention as procedural authority to determine whether children removed from one country should be returned, for the case to take place there, or should remain in their new country.

    The familiar “best interests of the child” standard has no bearing. The issue is not whether the new country is “best” for the child but whether the child has been removed from his domicile, or home country, in contravention of the Hague Convention.

    In most cases, the left-behind parent with custodial rights files an action in the child’s new country for return of the child.

    In some ways, the case proceeds just like a custody case: the left-behind parent files a petition or complaint; the moving-parent files an answer; the court may issue temporary custody orders; and the parties appear in court to argue their points, sometimes in an evidentiary hearing with witnesses, expert reports and other evidence.

    In many ways, however, the case is unique. The Hague Convention, in Article 16, specifically bans the court from obtaining jurisdiction to hear the underlying custody dispute; the left-behind parent must file the action within one year of removal (excluding times when the child was away with permission and, in some countries, times when the moving-parent secreted the child); the court cannot return the child if the child is age 16 or older (even if the case began before age 16); and the court may refuse to order the return if the child has become well-settled in the new country, if the child is mature enough to object and does object to return, if the child faces a grave risk of physical or psychological harm if returned, if the left-behind parent acquiesced in the removal, or if the return violates the new country’s fundamental notions of public policy, even if the left-behind parent resides in the child’s home country.

    These are the moving-parent’s affirmative defenses, and each one the courts narrowly apply to avoid mixing, impermissibly, with the “best interests of the child” standard. Cases analyzing each affirmative defense are available on the NCMEC’s website.

    If the left-behind parent proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that…

    1) the child had a habitual residence in that parent’s country before removal;
    2) the moving-parent breached the parent’s custody rights, which need not be joint physical custody; and
    3) the parent was actually exercising the rights at the time of removal…

    and none of the affirmative defenses apply, then the court must order the child returned to the home country.

    From there, the parents may litigate under the “best interests of the child” standard.

    Get more information on how to deal with family law when you are a man. Visit for answers to all your men’s divorce questions.

    Contact a Cordell & Cordell attorney if you need legal representation as most parties in divorce and custody cases do.

    Wife Left The Country with Children and Hague Convention Hearing Refused the Reurn
    I filed for divorce on March 16. My wife was properly served with the papers. She abducted my 10 year old and 8 year old on March 19 and went to united Kingdom defying circuit court’s judge’s restraining orders preventing her to take the children out of country. I filed for Hague Convention hearing. At the hearing in London, the Court REFUSED the return of children to US giving the reason of child objection to return. I have not even spoken with my children since March 12. As I understand, I as the left behind parents whose parental rights have been violated should get sole custody. Question and problem is that the judge refuses to listen/acknoledge that right. please advise

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *