Interstate and International Child Custody

International Child Abduction: Child Support And Child Custody

Many divorced parents reside in the same state or city. However, it is increasingly common for one parent to move out of state. This could be for a number of personal or professional reasons. Regardless of the reason, out of state moves by either parent will require a modification of custody orders. This can become even more complicated if one parent is seeking to move the child or children out of their home state. Moving a child out of state requires approval from the court, which may or may not be granted.

Interstate Jurisdiction

In order to determine which state has jurisdiction over an interstate child custody or child support case, we can refer to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA has been accepted by 49 states (all except Massachusetts) and helps determine which state is considered the child’s home state. A child’s home state is defined as the state in which the child has lived for at least six months. This guideline can become hazy if the child has not lived in any one state over the past six months. In such an instance, the court would have to determine if there is a strong connection to one state for the child and one of the parents.

Interstate Child Custody Enforcement

Under the full faith and credit clause, decisions made by a state with proper jurisdiction must be respected by all other states. This means that when a Texas court correctly issues a child custody order, that order must be recognized in other states.

International Child Custody

As international communication and travel has increased, so have international marriages and divorces. Some of those divorced parents may want to move back to their home country, creating an extra layer of complexity in their child custody cases. These international moves will often require the court’s approval, which is based on what is determined to be in the child’s best interest.

International Child Abduction Cases

When one divorced parent removes a child from their home country without the approval of the other parent or the court, the Hague Convention can be implemented. The Hague Convention is an international treaty whose purpose is to deter international child abduction cases and return abducted children to their home country. The first step in invoking the Hague Convention is to file a local court custody action.
In order for the Hague Convention to be enacted, the child must be in one of the 78 countries that have signed the terms of the treaty. The court will determine if both countries have signed the treaty and which country has jurisdiction over the case. During this determination process the court will consider three primary conditions:

  1. If the child was a “habitual resident” of a signatory country immediately preceding the action.
  2. Whether or not the child was “wrongfully” removed from that country.
  3. Whether the child is currently residing in a different signatory country.

Once the child is returned to their home country, the court with jurisdiction over the case can address the custody dispute accordingly.

Kelly J. Capps, Family Law Attorney in Austin, Texas


Interstate and international child custody and child support cases can be complicated and overwhelming. That’s why it is important to have someone on your side who is experienced in family law. Kelly J. Capps has over 25 years of experience in family law, including interstate and international custody issues. To arrange a consultation with Kelly J. Capps of Capps Law Firm, PLLC, please call our Austin office at (512) 338-9800.

This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. Its purpose is to educate the public about the topic of family law. This article should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information.