Can I Stop My Wife From Leaving The U.S. With Our Kids?

international divorceQuestion:

My wife and I are green card holders. I’m confident that if I mention my intent to divorce her, she will immediately leave the country for Russia with our children.

Is there a way to prevent a parent from leaving the U.S. with children without consent from the other parent? Without such a restriction, I cannot even talk to her about a divorce.


While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and am unable to give you legal advice, I can give you some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.

Where I do practice in Virginia, immigration issues are commonplace. While it is true that Russia does not participate in the Hague Convention, and getting the children back if they leave is near impossible, there are ways to ensure that your wife does not leave the country.

You can file a petition for child custody and visitation before talking to your wife about the divorce. Once filed, you can then immediately file a motion to prevent the children from traveling outside of the United States. In Virginia, the courts are quick to grant this relief because of the issues that persist.

Further, before anything is filed, you and your wife have equal rights to the children. What this means is that if you fear that she will leave the country, you can take full custody of the children before any court action. Because you and your wife have equal access to the children, the authorities will not be able to force you to give the children to your wife before a custody determination is made by the court.

Child custody is very jurisdiction-specific and requires a specialized knowledge of local law. For these reasons I would suggest you contact an attorney who specializes in family law matters in your jurisdiction.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on these matters, so please contact an attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws of your state and how they impact your case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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