Will Florida courts enforce international child custody orders?

Orders concerning child custody from foreign courts may be reviewed by Florida courts in very specific circumstances.

While the laws regarding child custody are somewhat clear for individuals moving between states, the subject can become much more difficult when orders from foreign countries are involved. Florida law will treat foreign countries like other states if certain criteria are met, and some parents may have questions about how they should proceed in these types of situations.

Florida will recognize foreign child custody orders if the decision was made in "substantial conformity" with current state law, meaning they were decided in a way that is similar to how they would be handled within Florida. The courts may reject foreign decisions if the child custody law of that particular country violates human rights.

There is often a multi-step review that foreign custody orders face in Florida courts. The state courts will want to be sure that both parents had an opportunity to have their day in court concerning the custody matter. Both parents must have had a chance to plead their case in order for the custody determination to receive validation. The state courts will then examine the factors behind the custody decision, to determine how the foreign countries actually arrived at their ruling in the custody proceedings.

In child custody cases in Florida, courts make their rulings based upon the best interests of the child. Judges must perform a comprehensive analysis of the situation to determine which arrangement would be best for the children, and in some cases, this may be substantially different from the requests of either of the parents.

When reviewing the decisions by foreign courts, Florida judges want to know the law that the other countries use when deciding custody. Some countries will also use the best interests of the child standards, and these decisions will generally be recognized as valid under Florida law.

Things can become more problematic when there are other methods used by foreign courts to determine custody, or, when these courts misapply their own best interest factors. Florida courts may still be reluctant to revisit agreements in these cases, and it might be necessary for one of the parents to show a change in circumstances before judges will consider making any revisions to the current foreign order in place.

Should you have questions about an international child custody issue, you should contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. You do not want to try to represent yourself in these cases, as there are many complicated issues that may result in you losing time with your child. Your attorney can begin preparing a case that protects your rights, and helps you pursue those matters most important to you.

Keywords: child custody, international child custody, family law