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While the simple answer to this question is yes, there is much more to be said regarding the negotiations of an international child custody agreement.  First, understand that it will be a far more complex and detailed agreement than would a standard custody agreement for parents who lived in the same state or country. It is highly recommended that an experienced child custody attorney be heavily involved in the matter to ensure all measures are in place for the child’s safety.

International custody presents some unique considerations.  First, it should never be presented as an option unless there is a solid, mutual trust and respect between all parties. If the child will be traveling alone, it is of utmost importance that parties on both ends can be trusted with the responsibility of being present and on time to pick the child up from an airport or other transportation portal. If there is any question as to whether this will be the case, it is not recommended that international custody be allowed. Human trafficking is too prevalent and far too great of a risk for a child traveling solo.

Second, understand that once the child leaves the country, US laws no longer apply.  The child will be subject to the laws of the country in which they are in.  This means that a US custody order is not valid, and the person to whom the child is sent to visit can travel to any other country with them. International child abductions do happen, and international custody agreements make them far more likely. Last, consider the age of the child and their best interests. If you were that age, how comfortable would you be if you were forced to regularly travel to another country?

While international custody is not always a bad option, especially for military families, it is one that presents many challenges which could easily turn dangerous for the child if not well-planned for. Allowing an attorney to assist you in these negotiations will ensure the child is kept as safe as possible while spending time with both parents.