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International Divorce Child Custody Passport and Support Issues

Family law issues frequently cross state and even international boundaries.  They involved international divorce issues, international child custody issues, and even passport issues.

To date we have handled cases involving the following countries:

  • South Africa
  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Egypt
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Canada
  • China
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Russia
  • France

And probably a few countries that I do not remember…we have handled a lot of international family law cases over the years.  The issues have been varied, but we have handled them all, and handled them well.  We would be happy to speak with you with your issues.

In addition we have handled a wide variety of cases for military personnel stationed over seas, as well as for parties who reside in almost every State in the United States of America from North Pole, Alaska (my children’s favorite case) to nearby Chattanooga, Tennessee.

These cases create some very complex jurisdictional and international procedural questions.  Questions such as, are foreign international divorces and custody orders enforceable in the United States even if there is no treaty with the country that issued the order?  The answer, In most cases (not all, but most) yes.  If not there is a legal concept called “comity” that most family law attorneys are not familiar with but does enable the enforcement of foreign divorce and child custody judgments.  We have handled these issue many times.

Other issues revolve around which State in the United States can I bring a divorce, or a child custody suit, or a child support or alimony action or contempt matter in.

These are not simple issues, they are not intuitive, but they can be absolutely critical to your case.

To answer your questions in general, no matter which country you are from, as long as you reside in the State of Georgia for 6 months, you can get a divorce in the state of Georgia. Your spouse does not have to consent to the divorce, your spouse does not even have to come to the State of Georgia. With or without his or her cooperation you can get the divorce. And in most countries of the world the divorce will be legally binding, not only in the United States but also in any country in the world. There are sometimes special issues with Muslim divorces being recognized in certain parts of the Middle East that we can discuss with you, but in general a divorce in the United States will be recognized abroad.

Likewise, if your children have lived in the United States for at least six months, we can probably get a custody order in the State of Georgia that will be legally enforceable in most countries in the rest of the world. Call us to discuss your specific issues.

One common issue, particularly in international divorces, child custody issues, paternity and legitimation issues, is whether or not a child may travel internationally after the case. The issue is two fold, either:

(1) Will I be able to travel internationally with my child even if the other parent does not consent; or

(2) Will I be able to prevent the other parent from taking the child out of the country without my consent.

The answer to these questions changed dramatically in 2014 with the Ansell v. Ansell, 2014 WL 336832 (Ga. App.) decision which held that a trial court does not have the power to order a parent to cooperate and consent to executing the necessary documents to obtain a passport for a child.

Instead the trial court was instructed to follow Federal law. Pursuant to Federal law, C.F.R. 51.28 (a)(3)(ii)(E), the Court may not have the power to force a parent to cooperate with obtaining a passport, but the court does have the power to issue and order that allows one parent to obtain a passport without the consent or cooperation of the other parent. Which effectively resolves the issue of a non-cooperating parent.

What this means from a practical perspective, is you need to resolve any passport issues in your case with the appropriate court orders. You cannot wait and rely on the other parent to cooperate with you after a child’s passport expires.

Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.

Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.