CHILD CUSTODY DECISION MADE MORE COMPLEX BY INTERNATIONAL BORDER

Child custody cases are often complicated and sometimes frustrating to all the parties involved. When international borders are crossed, however, a child custody case becomes even more complex. States like Texas that have international borders have had to find a way to address issues that arise when American born children are separated from parents who have been deported.

One such couple had been living in the United States for more than a decade. A run-in with the law over a shoplifting charge ended with them being deported. The children were placed with their paternal grandmother who also lives in the United States. Since that time, the couple has been petitioning the United States courts to allow their children to cross the border into Mexico and live with them there. They have found working through both the United States and Mexican child welfare departments of Children Services to be a complicated and frustrating process.

It is very important for parents who have temporarily lost custody of their children to be aware of the requirements of the Department of Children’s Services in their state to regain custody. In child custody cases like these, however, completing the requirements of the United States court’s family reunification plan requires the co-operation of two separate agencies in two different countries. Those who reside in border states like Texas should also be familiar with current Federal rulings regarding the emigration of children born in the United States to other countries.

Cross-border custody cases are made even more difficult by the fact that the parents are unable to appear at court hearings as they are not allowed into the United States. In this case, the Mexican child welfare agency has verified that the parents have met the U.S. requirements. However, many things are subject to the perceptions of the case officers involved. For example, what may be considered an acceptable home in Mexico may not meet the standards set in Texas child custody regulations. As United States emigration policies continue to change, the requirements for families caught in between countries may continue to change also.