My ex took our child out of the country on vacation. Now she wants to stay there! What are my rights?

Divorce Attorney Angela FoyQuestion:

My ex-wife took my daughter to Taiwan for what was supposed to be 6-month vacation. I agreed to it so my daughter could get the experience.

Now she is asking me to sign a paper for her to get a resident visa and states she wants stay there for another year.

Can she obtain a visa without my signature? What about my visitation rights? I only agreed to a 6-month period, not a year and a half!

Answer:

You should file an action quickly to address the situation and consult with a domestic litigation attorney in your area to address all of your options. I can give you some general guidelines about the law and what may be involved. I do not practice in Arkansas, so I can only speak in generalities based on my experience.

In theory, visas and passports are custody determinations and you each likely have joint authority as to these decisions, unless it was allocated differently in your divorce judgment. If that is the case, then she should not be able to obtain a resident or permanent visa without your permission.

While she should not, that does not mean that she cannot. Depending on what information the Taiwan and the U.S. government require, she may still be able to obtain the visa, although it is likely prohibited without being addressed by the court.

In most jurisdictions, one parent cannot relocate the child such a distance – out of the country – without the other’s consent. It is typical that the party is prohibited from moving until consent is given or the court issues an order allowing the move.

The difficult part from your circumstances is that she is already there. As a result, you need to act quickly.

You must currently follow all orders that are in effect and seek to modify those orders that need to be changed. It is likely that the orders were not changed to allow for the vacation.

If that is the case, you would likely be seeking your daughter’s return and enforcement of the currently placement order – you should have your weekend and holiday visitation.

Because of the length of time that your daughter has been out of the country, you may also have some jurisdiction issues to address.

I would encourage you to act quickly. Right now, you may still be able to address the orders in Arkansas and have the issues decided there.

However, the longer you wait, the more her move will have precedence. Also, the longer you wait, you run the risk of Arkansas losing jurisdiction over custody and placement, with Taiwan then having jurisdiction. There is “home field advantage” and an Arkansas court is much more likely to order a return to Arkansas than a Taiwanese court.

All of your options depend on the facts of your case, and the laws in your jurisdiction.  You should contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your area.  I do not practice in Arkansas, so I cannot inform you as to the state’s specific laws.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide.

 

Angela Foy is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisc., office of Cordell & Cordell where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Foy is licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin, the U.S. District Court, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. 

 Ms. Foy received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Notre Dame. She then continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Marquette University.

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