It becomes complicated when the parents locked in the custody battle are of different nationalities and lives in different countries. One parent may take his own child away from the parent who has physical custody of the child and brings the child overseas to another country, usually the abductor-parents own country of residence or citizenship.
Recently in the news, an Australian father took his child from his ex-wife in Japan and took the child to Australia. He applied for an order granting him custody of the child on the ground that the child would be living under a risk of radiation following the Fukushima meltdown in 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.
The court denied the father’s petition for child custody, ruling that there was no serious factual basis that the child would be exposed to radiation risk by remaining with his mother in Japan. The Queensland court then granted custody back to the child’s mother who took the child back with her to Japan.
The Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an agreement between nations to ensure the return of a child to the country where he or she normally lives after a parent has taken the child to another country. The purpose of the return of the child is so that the custody and contact can be decided by the courts of the country where the child normally lives. The parent who desires the return of the abducted child can file a case or an application in his country for the return of the child. His country will coordinate with the country where the abducted child was taken. If that country is a signatory to the Hague Convention, it will move to return the child.
There is a further complication when the abducted child has dual nationalities. The laws of the country where the child was taken after being abducted may treat the child as their own citizen thus, the Hague Convention would not apply. In this case, the parent has to go to the country where the child was taken and go to their courts asking that custody over the child be given to her. This is what happened to the Australian dad in the news. His wife went to Australia and filed her own petition to be granted custody under Australian law. In all cases of child abduction, it is wise to have legal representation and advice from an experienced family lawyer.
References: International parental child abduction (n.d.). Foreign and Commonwealth Office [online]. Available from: [Accessed on 29 March 2013]