How one mother violated international law in custody case

A lot of people find child custody to be one of the more difficult areas of family law to deal with because of how complex it can be to handle. Not only does a person have to know state laws regarding child custody but international ones as well. This can be overwhelming, especially if that person does not have the necessary legal knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their case.

Residents here in Massachusetts can see this highlighted in a case out of New Jersey where a woman is currently facing serious legal ramifications because of the decisions she made in her own child custody case. Now, on top of potential criminal charges, she could face deportation too, which could further complicate the situation.

Some of our Worcester County readers may have heard about her story, which began back in 2004 when she and her husband separated. Per their parenting agreement, neither parent was allowed to take their then 4-year-old daughter out of the country without the other parent’s permission. But the mother, who is a native of Spain, is said to have violated this agreement when she took the girl to her home country in 2005 and refused to return her in 2006, despite court orders enforcing the custody agreement.

Though the woman in this case has been paroled, her legal battle may not be over, sources say. At this time, she may face a hearing for the unresolved contempt-of-court orders against her. On top of that, federal authorities may pursue deportation, which would return her to Spain where the couple’s now 14-year-old daughter is living with her grandparents.

It’s worth pointing out that Spain is a part of the Hague Convention, which recognizes and enforces the child custody laws of countries who are also part of the convention. It’s because of this that even if the woman is returned to Spain, the Spanish courts may enforce the orders issued here in the United States, forcing the woman to return her daughter or risk legal ramifications in Spain too.

Sources:, “Mother released from N.J. prison in international child custody case,” Peter J. Sampson, July 17, 2014

The Hague Conference on Private International Law, “Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction,” Accessed July 30, 2014