Co-parenting is an unquestionably challenging endeavor. This is often especially true when co-parents live in or regularly travel to different countries. Because international child custody matters can be uniquely complex affairs, it is generally a good idea to seek experienced legal guidance as soon as you and your child’s other parent decide to sever your romantic ties. Whether your co-parenting relationship is amicable or fraught with tension, it is important to remain educated about your rights, your legal options and your general legal standing when moving forward.

The Best Interests of the Child

In the United States, family law judges are bound to honor the best interests of the child standard when making child custody determinations. This standard is not the rule of law in every country, so if your child custody arrangements are being created or enforced by another jurisdiction, it will be important for you to consult an attorney about that jurisdiction’s specific standards.

In general, if co-parents can agree on specific terms related to their child’s custody and a corresponding parenting plan, American judges will respect those mutually agreed upon terms unless they grossly misjudge the affected child’s best interests. However, if parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, a judge will make a determination based on his or her perceptions of what terms would best serve the child’s best interests. Regardless of a parent’s living arrangements or travel schedule, judges will consider how both parents’ proposed terms would or would not suit that child’s interests. If you have a specific set of terms in mind, you and your attorney will need to be prepared to illustrate how your terms will best serve that standard generally and your child’s unique needs specifically.

When a Modification or Enforcement Action Becomes Necessary

There may come a time when standing child custody orders need to be modified or you may need to seek enforcement of the terms of your custody order. If your co-parent is not respecting the terms of your order, please speak with an attorney as soon as possible in order to explore your options. If you are interested in modifying an existing agreement, know that modification requests are also determined based on the best interests of the child standard. In addition, modification requests are generally only granted when a family’s situation or child’s needs have changed considerably since the original order was put into place.

Child Custody Assistance Is Available

If you have questions about child custody issues that could be impacted by international law and/or international travel, please consider reaching out to an experienced attorney. International child custody matters tend to be uniquely complex legal challenges, so it is generally a good idea to seek legal guidance as early in the process as you can. Retaining the services of an attorney, like a child custody lawyer in Lake Forest, IL from Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC, experienced in international child custody matters specifically is also generally a positive idea.

Even if your romantic split from your child’s other parent has been amicable, it is important to seek experienced legal guidance before settling on any child custody terms. Even if you do not foresee that you and your child’s other parent will have any problems navigating your co-parenting arrangement across borders, it is far better to ensure that your parental rights and your child’s best interests remain protected in the event that your relationship with your co-parent hits a snag.