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Handling child custody between nations

One of the most difficult custody situations to handle is one where one parent is from another country. It's bad enough to deal with child custody concerns when parents are in different states, but handling custody across international lines is a whole different ballgame.

When you have a child who has dual citizenship or who has the potential to live in either country, it's a good idea to sit down and work out a strict plan for custody. Each parent deserves, in most cases, the right to see their child or children. How they do that is what you need to address.

What's a good international custody plan?

There is no question that international custody is expensive. Travel is costly, as are visas and passports. Both parents should first sit down and discuss where the child's primary home is going to be. If the parents plan to have joint custody, it's likely that the child will primarily live where they attend school while returning to the other country when there is enough time on school breaks or holidays.

When children are young, it's generally best to keep them in a routine. This may mean giving the noncustodial parent the right to see them on long holidays or vacations but having the parent come to them. Once older, the children may be able to travel between countries more easily, taking some strain off the two-country relationship.

You and your spouse (or ex-spouse) should carefully discuss how to provide for your child's needs, ways to communicate despite distance and other important factors that could impact your relationships with your child.

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