International Family Law: Cross-Border Custody and Support Issues

International Family Law: Cross-Border Custody and Support Issues

Should a child’s custody be decided in Canada or the UAE? That’s something the Canadian Supreme Court decided only a short while ago. With 60,828 new settlers in Ontario in the first quarter of 2023 alone, the courts will have more international child custody and support issues to decide.

Learn about the basics of cross-border child custody and support from family lawyers in St. Catharines.

Let’s Start With the Basics (and Why You Need to Retain a Family Law Office)

One of the main issues in any cross-border family dispute is which country has jurisdiction to decide the matter. In Ontario, the courts follow the principle of comity, meaning the court may recognize the legal decisions of another jurisdiction.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty intended to protect children from being wrongfully taken across borders. It also has mechanisms for the speedy return of children. Canada is a signatory to the treaty, but several others are not.

Finally, the courts will always consider the best interests of the child. They will look at the child’s relationships, cultural background, safety, and other aspects when it comes to their decision-making.

Simply, international child custody and support disputes are complex, trying to decode them yourself can be an exercise in futility. You need to work with experienced family lawyers in St. Catharines.

Three Issues in Cross-Border Child Custody

  1. Establishing jurisdiction – To determine jurisdiction, you have to demonstrate the child’s habitual residence, i.e., where their regular home is. That will determine which laws apply to the case and which court should hear the case.
  2. Custody Enforcement – If your spouse refuses to release the child as per a custody order, the Hague Convention can help. You can enlist the help of local authorities for support in finding and returning the child.
  3. Travel Consent – A child’s parent cannot take them across international borders without obtaining consent from the other parent.

Three Issues in Cross-Border Support

  1. Establishing jurisdiction – Similar to child custody, the court will first establish which jurisdiction applies to the case. It will look at the child’s regular residence and any agreements between the parents.
  2. Order Enforcement – You can enforce a child support order on a parent in another country, so long as it has reciprocity agreements with Canada.
  3. Calculating Child Support – The amount of support depends on a wide range of factors, including each parent’s income, custody arrangement, and more. Calculations are complex, and an attorney in family law will be able to advise you.

You Need a Capable Team of Family Lawyers in St. Catharines

Let’s not beat around the bush—international child custody and support disputes are complex. Even if the countries have a close relationship, such as the U.S. and Canada, the issues can be complex. That’s why you need a family law office that can effectively advise, guide, and represent you at all stages of the matter.

With over 140 years of representing Ontarians, Lancaster Chown & Welch LLP has the resources to protect your interests. Book a free consultation with an attorney in family law today to discuss your concerns.