How do I get custody over my child? 18 Answers as of June 08, 2011

My child is 9 years old, I have full custody and she is a US citizen like me born here. We went to visit her father and he kept her in Iraq. I came home to the US. How I can bring her here to live with me?

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
If I understand correctly, you and your child are US Citizens, you went to Iraq to visit dad who refused to let the child leave. Is that correct? If so, the first question is why didn't you contact the US Consulate in Iraq before you left the country. Second question is the visa - is a travel permit or visa required to enter Iraq? If so, is it expired? There are methods to secure return of the child, but it depends on Federal Treaties - particularly it depends on whether or not Iraq is a member of the Hague Convention. The Convention provides that the removal or retention of a child is wrongful whenever: "a. It is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or alone, under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention; and "b. at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention." These rights of custody may arise by operation of law or by reason of a judicial or administrative decision, or by reason of an agreement having legal effect under the law of the country of habitual residence. "From the Convention's standpoint, the removal of a child by one of the joint holders without the consent of the other, is . . . wrongful, and this wrongfulness derives in this particular case, not from some action in breach of a particular law, but from the fact that such action has disregarded the rights of the other parent which are also protected by law, and has interfered with their normal exercise." Based on the information you have provided in your question, I think the father has wrongfully retained custody, but that would first and foremost depend on whether or not you have any custody orders issued by a US Court. If you have sat back and done nothing to get any orders from any court, this is going to be much more difficult and much more expensive. That is not to say impossible, just more expensive and difficult and it will require much more intervention through diplomatic channels.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 6/8/2011
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C.
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Fredric Harlan Aaron
I am sorry to hear of your situation. Usually, in cases involving child custody between two nations, the Hague Convention governs the case. Under the Hague Convention, the two nations will often follow the jurisdiction of the courts in the nation in which the child is a citizen. Unfortunately, Iraq, like most Muslim nations, did not ratify the Hague Convention and is therefore not governed by it in cases of child custody/child abduction. You should probably contact the US State Department to get assistance with this case. It will probably be an uphill battle because under Shari'a law, the male parent is given custody of children in a divorce.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/6/2011
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
You must first go to the US Department of State and ask to speak to someone there who can assist you. They will, in turn, contact the Embassy in Iraq who will contact the Iraqi government who hopefully will take action to get your child back for you. I also suggest you speak to an attorney who is conversant in International Law and who has some sort of contact with Iraq. You and your child are both US citizens and it is illegal to steal a child, even though they are a parent, when they do not have custodial rights themselves.Consult with a lawyer right away. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/3/2011
Seattle Divorce Services
Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
International custody cases are tough. You need to find an attorney that is experienced in Hague Convention cases, though I don't know if Iraq is a signer to the Hague Convention.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/3/2011
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
Since there is no agreement concerning this type of issue between the US and Iraq (not that I am aware of at least) it will be very difficult to retrieve your child. I suggest you contact an expert attorney in international custody issues.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 6/3/2011
    Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C.
    Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C. | Karen A. Clark
    Based on your description of the situation, it sounds like you already have legal custody of your child. The issue is regaining physical custody. Because of the international issues involved, I would suggest that you contact an attorney who is familiar with both international law and family law immediately. It would also be advisable to contact the U.S. Department of State's Office of Children's Issues at 202-647-7000, and to ask for a copy of the booklet, *International Parent Child Abduction*.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    You need to contact your local District Attorney Child Abduction and Recovery Unit immediately for assistance and they may send you to the FBI. Unless you can return to Iraq and get your child back, you may be in for a long process, unfortunately.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    The Findling Law Firm, PLC
    The Findling Law Firm, PLC | Daniel M Findling
    Foreign Judgments and Orders are enforceable in other countries via treaties. The Hague Convention typically governs international child custody issues. Therefore, if Iraq is a signature country in the Hague convention, they will uphold the Michigan custody Order. However, if they are not, you have to look for another treaty or contact the State Department. Thank you for the opportunity to assist you in this matter. If you require further assistance or would like to schedule a free confidential consultation, I have provided my contact information below. During the consultation we can discuss both the obligations and benefits associated with your case. I look forward to meeting you to discuss your goals.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    You should retain a family lawyer who is experienced in international child custody cases and discuss with this attorney whether or not it would be a good idea to file suit and to go to the F.B.I. International custody matters present difficult issues, as you must know, so you need an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    it will be a challenge if Iraq is not part of the Hague Convention. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hague_Convention_on_the_Civil_Aspects_of_Intern ational_Child_Abduction you should act quickly.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    You need a family lawyer familiar with international abduction cases and the Hauge convention. I had a similar case years ago and the mother had to bribe officials to get the child returned to her. This may be difficult and expensive. You may also need an attorney in Iraq.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/2/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    Since you have full custody, perhaps you could get the U.S. Attorney to assist in enforcing the U.S. custody order? I don't know of our treaty status with Iraq, but I would think that you could get some enforcement of the custody order if it is a U.S. order. Otherwise, I am stumped. If your local U.S. Attorney's office can't help, you may consider trying your U.S. Representative or Senator for assistance. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/2/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    You will need the assistance of an international lawyer and the US Department of State. Please consult with both immediately. God speed.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/2/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Your statement that you have "full custody" suggests that there is an existing court order affecting the parental rights and responsibilities for your child. If that is true, you need to find an attorney experienced in international custody cases involving the Hague Conventions, although Iraq is not currently a signatory to that treaty. You are facing a complicated and difficult problem that cannot be solved without a competent and experienced attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/2/2011
    Charles Regan Shaw, PLC
    Charles Regan Shaw, PLC | Charles R Shaw
    The Hague treaty covers this and you need counsel quickly.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/2/2011
    Gonzalez Law Associates P.C.
    Gonzalez Law Associates P.C. | Carlos Gonzalez
    You may file a petition for custody and seek a writ of habeus corpus... This would order him to return the child or have an arrest warrant issued which may be enforced Internationally.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/2/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    Hague Convention. Although I am not sure it applies to/with Iraq.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/2/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You have what sadly will be a hugely expensive and difficult road ahead. You need to retain the best international custody lawyer here you can get, and he will likely need to associate Iraqi counsel. In that many Arab states ignore mothers, sadly you may have an impossible or difficult battle. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/2/2011
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