The Koblin Family Law Center

Japan now on board with Hague child custody treaty

Child custody issues can be among the most contentious matters to deal with during a California divorce. The best interest of the child should always be the primary concern. But the wishes of each of the parents regarding child custody also need to be duly addressed.

Reaching an optimal solution that gets everyone through the emotional turmoil is most likely to be achieved by working with experienced legal counsel.

In cases where one of the parents happens to be from another state or another country, the tensions over child custody can be worse, especially if that parent decides to cross borders with the child. Such a move could amount to a violation of child custody. It could also constitute abduction. The legal ramifications in terms of jurisdiction can be huge.

In the international arena, The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is intended to address those issues by establishing some common guidelines. The general rule signatory countries abide by is that, in cases where parents in failed marriages live in separate countries, decisions on custody of children younger than 16 rest with the courts of the country where the family lived before the divorce or separation.

A good number of countries are signatories to this treaty, including the U.S. Just this week, Japan became the latest nation to join the list. The move ends years of resistance by the government in Tokyo. It is scheduled to take effect as of April 1.

Authorities in Japan note that cases prior to the effective date won't be covered by the treaty. But the country's Supreme Court says it expects dozens of cases to be heard every year going forward. 

Source: The Asahi Shimbun, "Japan finally signs Hague convention governing international child custody disputes," Jan. 25, 2014

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