Ever since Spanish explorers noted the thriving communities Native Americans had established along the Rio Grande, people from around the world have been flocking to our fair valley. Today, the Albuquerque area is one of the most diverse regions of the country.

While many people come here and stay forever, the itch to continue traveling or to return home is powerful. As modern means of transportation and communication make globe-hopping easier than ever, a growing number of New Mexico parents have to figure out how to share custody with former partners who move not just to the other side of town, but to other countries. 

Whether a child’s trip to a foreign country is expected, or he or she is abducted, Attorney Bob Matteucci can help you navigate the challenges split-country co-parenting creates. You can depend on him to craft a customized child custody agreement that is fair, workable, and comfortable for your family.

What Happens When One Parent Wants to Travel or Live Abroad? 

The same challenges that co-parents face after any separation are magnified when one parent wants to move to another country or spend a significant amount of time traveling abroad. 

  • How do you ensure the child gets to spend quality time with each parent? 
  • What is the best way to shuttle the child between homes without disrupting their routine? 
  • Is there a good way for the child to communicate with one parent when at the home of the other parent? 
  • Are there cultural practices the child should or should not be exposed to when residing with one parent or the other? 

Finding an answer to these and other questions is more difficult when one parent wants to travel abroad or permanently reside in a foreign country, but it is not impossible. Attorney Bob Matteucci can help you negotiate a child custody agreement — or modify an existing agreement — that meets your family’s unique needs. By focusing on what is best for your child, and working backward from there, he is usually able to help families come to an amicable agreement. 

Child Abduction 

Most parents try to do the right thing for their children, so they are often shocked when their actions are labeled “child abduction” or “kidnapping.” But that is exactly what it is when one parent takes their child away from the other parent without prior knowledge or agreement. 

When a child is taken to a foreign country by a parent or other relative, Attorney Bob Matteucci can help locate the child, take legal action to get the child back to New Mexico, and craft legal guardrails that can deter the abductor from taking similar actions in the future. Ideally this can all be done in a way that prevents the child from feeling like they have done anything wrong, or causes them to feel unsafe, unloved, or like they are the ones at fault. 

What Laws Apply in International Custody Disputes? 

What law will apply to a child custody case when one parent is living abroad varies from case to case. 

New Mexico Laws 

NM Stat § 40-4-9.1 (2021) makes it very clear that couples in the Land of Enchantment should expect to co-parent their children even if they have become disenchanted with one another. This means each parent should expect to spend significant time with their child, and share responsibility for their child’s financial, physical, emotional, and developmental needs. 

However, our state law does give New Mexico family court judges the discretion to significantly curtail the rights and responsibilities of parents who choose to live a significant distance from their child. This provision, in NM Stat § 40-4-9.1 (7), often factors into international child custody disputes. 

International Laws 

Needless to say, other countries have dramatically different child custody laws than the United States. Fortunately, many countries are committed to working together to resolve international child custody disputes. 

The primary legal instrument governing such disputes is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Ratified by numerous countries since the 1980s, the Convention aims to expedite the return of children who have been abducted. 

However, despite its noble intentions, the implementation of the Convention faces numerous challenges. Each country tends to interpret it differently, and there are always issues that arise when trying to navigate foreign legal customs and practices. Resolving international child custody disputes in the courts is often a lengthy and frustrating process. 

Practical and Cultural Considerations

Different perspectives on parental rights and responsibilities, and what is truly in the best interests of a child can make resolving international child custody disputes a challenge. So it should come as no surprise that international child custody disputes are often more efficiently addressed outside of the courtroom. 

If your child’s other parent is willing to come to the negotiating table, or even bring in a mediator, you will often get better results than you would in any courtroom in any part of the world. 

Working together to create a co-parenting plan will also allow you to hammer out details a court may not feel is important. After all, you need to decide not only where your child is going to live, but:

  • How often they will visit their other parent and extended family;
  • How your child will travel from country to country, and how they will communicate with their long-distance family members when they are not residing with them; 
  • Where your child will spend important holidays;
  • What sort of education your child will receive, and what extracurricular activities they will participate in;
  • Whether your child should learn more than one language;
  • Who will make healthcare decisions on your child’s behalf; and
  • What sort of introduction your child will have to important cultural practices. 

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. As most parently quickly realize, raising a tiny human involves much more than making sure their immediate physical needs are met. 

If an amicable child custody agreement that addresses these topics can be struck outside of the courtroom, everyone involved will benefit. 

Serving Families with Dignity & Compassion 

Whether you are figuring out how to co-parent with someone moving out of the country, or your former parent has abducted your child, Attorney Bob Matteucci is ready to help you resolve your international child custody dispute. 
Bob is a seasoned family law attorney who can help you craft a child custody agreement — or modify an existing agreement — that will serve your family’s unique needs. Please contact him today to schedule a meeting.