International Divorce: Dual Citizenship and the Hague Convention

On behalf of Lake Toback Attorneys

Chicago is a truly international city. Our dynamic culture has drawn people from all over the world, seeking a more fulfilling life. As these people meet and interact, the result is many marriages that cross national boundaries.

Naturally, this mixture also leads to divorces that also cross those boundaries. Divorce in Chicago can therefore involve issues of dual citizenship that make dissolution of a marriage more complicated than if only one country were involved.

Perhaps the clearest way in which ties to another country can affect a divorce is when there is a custody dispute. When a parent takes a child to a foreign country, the Hague Abduction Convention can come into play. The Hague Convention is an international treaty that is intended to protect children who are wrongfully taken by a parent to another country.

Lawyers who handle child abduction cases have to grapple with a contentious truth. It is one thing to divide money fairly. But dividing the custody of children in an international dispute is something that even the famed Wisdom of Solomon can struggle to resolve. When parents are in different countries, simply alternating custody for periods of time may not be a feasible solution.

Unfortunately, sometimes parents don’t even fully realize the potential impact of the Hague Convention before it’s too late. If a couple with kids is contemplating divorce, it’s asking for trouble to have a parent take a child or children outside the U.S. Even if the parent has dual citizenship, the other parent could claim that the move triggers the Hague Convention.

It’s true that in many cases when a parent takes a child outside the U.S., it’s because of concerns about domestic abuse. But the Hague Convention, on its face, is directed returning children from the country from which they were taken.

Source: “Small World, Big Problem: Divorces Involving Dual Citizenship,” Forbes, Jeff Landers, 1-10-13

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International Divorce: Dual Citizenship and the Hague Convention