Child Custody When One Parent Wants To Take a Child to Mexico
The United States border with Mexico is less than a 45 minute drive from downtown San Diego. Due to this proximity with our southern neighbor, many people living in the Southwestern U.S. have strong familial and historical ties to Mexico. For the most part, this is not an issue. But, it can become an issue when parents separate and there is a disagreement about which country the children will live in. If the other parent of your child or children wishes to move them to Mexico and you object, you need to contact a qualified San Diego international move away attorney. Since 1975, San Diego’s Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. has been successfully representing parents in child custody disputes. For the sake of your children and your future with them, call our offices at (858) 458-9500 for a free consultation.
When one parent wants to move a child out of the U.S., things can become very complicated. First, it’s a question of custody as outlined in your custody agreement. There are two types of child custody in California, Legal Custody, in which a parent has the right to make important decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, and welfare; and Physical Custody, meaning who the child lives with.
For both legal and physical custody, a parent can have Sole custody or Joint custody. Sole means only one parent has custody (legal and/or physical), and joint means that both parents have custody (legal and/or physical). If the other parent has sole legal and physical custody of a child, it is going to be difficult for you to keep them from leaving the country (difficult, but not impossible).
One way to keep your child from being taken out of the country is to prevent them from getting a passport or passport card. If the child in question doesn’t have a passport, they will not be able to legally enter Mexico. It’s possible to prevent one parent from obtaining a passport on behalf of a child because of the Two Parent Consent Law, which requires both parents to sign off on a passport for minor child. You can also put the child’s name on the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program, or CPIAP, which notifies both parents that a passport has been applied for. In a case where your child already has a passport, you can get a court order to have that passport surrendered to the court for safe keeping.
International child abduction is when one parent takes a child to a foreign country and keeps them there without the other parent’s permission--a federal crime in the United States. The U.S. State Department says that international child abductions are on the rise and that more than half of all abducted children are taken to Mexico. This type of child abduction can be very difficult to resolve because it involves different judicial systems, a lack of jurisdiction by law enforcement agencies, and varying rights of a minor and the legal definition of custody.
If your child has been taken to Mexico illegally, you may be able to get them back through the Hague Abduction Convention. The Hague Abduction Convention is a treaty that many countries, including the United States and Mexico, have joined. The treaty’s purpose is to encourage the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence, and to secure a parent’s right of access to their child. The idea is that custody should be decided by courts in the country of the child’s habitual residence. Unfortunately, Mexico has a history of not complying with The Hague Abduction Convention.
If you fear that your child will be taken to Mexico or any other foreign country, you do have legal recourse as a parent. To find out more about your parental rights and options, call Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. for a free case evaluation at (858) 458-9500 today.
- Questions California Courts Ask in International Move Away Custody Decisions
- Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program - U.S. Department of State