Latest News 2010 April Conference Addressed International Child Relocations

Conference Addressed International Child Relocations

Representatives from 14 countries met at a conference last week to address a growing global issue: international relocation of children.

In family law courts throughout the U.S., judges are being asked to decided whether or not a child can relocate to another country with one of their parents, while the other parent remains in the U.S.  But because there is no uniform guidelines for determining how to resolve these types of cases, the decision is based solely on the judge's opinion, which changes from state to state, county to county, court room to court room. 

The conference, which involved more than 50 judges and other experts, was held in Washington D.C., and included participation from the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Egypt, Germany, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and Pakistan. At the conclusion of the conference, the attendants created and issued the "Washington Declaration on International Family Relocation," which outlines what issues should be considered by judges to standardize how relocation cases are handled. Some of the recommendations listed in the declaration include:

  • The child's best interest should always be the primary consideration
  • Each state needs to create legal procedures that address child relocation
  • Reasonable notice should be provided before relocation
  • Judges should always consider:
    • The right of the child to maintain strong relationships with both parents
    • The child's opinion over the matter (if the child is of an appropriate age and maturity)
    • The child's schooling
    • Employment
    • Existing child custody & visitation arrangements
    • The reason for relocating
    • History of domestic violence
  • Mediation should be used when addressing relocation, as well as a voluntary settlement relocation agreement
  • All countries are urged to sign onto both the 1980 and 1996 Hague Conventions, which provide a global framework for international cooperation on relocation issues

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, or if you would like to discuss a relocation issue with a family law attorney near you, click here to search our database of divorce & family lawyers from across the country.