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International marriages complicate child custody

Massachusetts residents that enter international marriages could find themselves with even more complicated legal struggles than those that two natives of this country encounter. This is because their unique countries of origin add to the difficulty of establishing a child custody agreement. In one such case, a woman native to this country married a non-native man and they had two children. They lived in the man's country of origin until their divorce, when the woman returned with her two young daughters.

Allegedly, an international court granted custody of the girls to their father. However, the mother had suspicions that her ex-husband was sexually abusing one or both of the girls. Instead of allowing him to have them, she fled and returned to her native country. Now, an international child custody battle is being waged over the girls.

After the mother left Turkey, she lived in the United States for several years before her ex-husband found the family. The mother said that she used false names for the girls until she registered them for school. She then used their real names, which was apparently how her ex-husband found them.

Hague international child abduction provisions could help this woman and Massachusetts parents that are also involved in international child custody disputes. Although this case is in the U.S. District Court, these provisions could allow a judge to keep the children in the country. This is possible if the judge believes that the children have established a home here and that leaving would harm them.

Child custody disputes are an important consequence of divorce whether it occurs between two Massachusetts natives or a native and an international citizen. Regardless of the situation, children must be protected from potentially harmful environments. Parents must consider obtaining the necessary resources to ensure their children' welfare when engaged in child custody disputes and follow applicable laws when doing so.

Source:, "NH mom: I fled Turkey over husband's child abuse," Lynne Tuohy, Jan. 22, 2013

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