Interviewer: Have you ever had a casewhere one parent kidnaps the child and takes him or her to another country?
Gary Warren: Yes, I’ve had cases over time where that has occurred. It’s a very common scenario. It’s not something that people relish, but it can be avoided if you follow proper procedures, because you’re not going to let people take a child out of the country.
For Protection, Ensure That Travel Documents Are in the Possession of the Custodial Parent or a Legally Accepted Third Party
I can’t stop somebody from leaving the country, especially with regards to Mexico. If you’re going to just take the risk and flee across the border, there’s nothing I can do about that. However, I can stop them from taking the child to Mexico lawfully if we make sure that the travel documents are in the possession of my client or we maintain possession of those documents. Additionally, an entity such as the registry of the court can maintain possession of them. I just had a case right now where an imam from the mosque is going to keep possession of these travel documents.
It Can Be Possible to Locate Your Child in a Country Such as Mexico: It Is More Difficult to Locate Children Kidnapped and Taken to the Middle East or Africa
This is something you have to think about. With regard to Mexico, geographically it is close and it’s culturally similar, so we have a little bit more control over what happens once people get down there, because we are able to locate people in Mexico.
It Is Also Difficult to Collect Child Support Payments from a Party Living in a Foreign Country
If a parent is fleeing with children someplace like the Middle East or Africa, you can have real problems because we don’t have the intelligence and reciprocity that we can have in Mexico. We don’t have that in these other places. The same premise applies in regard to child support. Collecting your child support from someone overseas or in a foreign country can be really difficult.
While United States Courts Have No Jurisdiction in a Foreign Country, Some Countries, Such as Mexico, Will Not Make Entry into Their Country Easy for a Party That Owes a Significant Amount of Back Child Support
Interviewer: What jurisdiction do the courts in the United States have in Mexico, even if you find their whereabouts of a parent who has left the country?
Gary Warren: They don’t have any jurisdiction in Mexico. The difference is, though, they can make a person’s life difficult coming back. If you owe a lot of child support and you apply for some kind of travel document or visa, you’re not welcome, probably, unless you can show that, “I’m here to make some money. I’m going to meet my responsibilities to support my dependents.”
With everybody’s immigration applications, part of that is you have to support your dependents. It’s a big issue. A lot of times, they will come back for economic reasons. It’s just a matter of finding them once they get back into the country.
We don’t really worry so much because Mexico doesn’t pose as many problems as the countries that are across the ocean. If they’re here in the United States, they’re here for a reason. They’re not going to go back to Mexico unless they have to.
Other Countries Legal Systems Differ Greatly from the United States’ Systems – It Is Difficult to Enforce U.S. Court Rulings in a Foreign Country
In a divorce, you will have property issues that are disbursed when you have people who own property in a foreign country. Child custody issues arise as well. For example, if a parent flees with children to Morocco, it is, I believe, a country that signed The Hague Convention. However, their legal system is so different that even if you were able to retain a lawyer over there, the chances of ever getting an enforcement order that’s been signed by a court in the United States is next to nothing.
Attorney Warren Networks with Citizens from Other Countries Who Will Assist in the Process of Returning Children Back to the Custodial Parent
What we do is we just try to work with networks with people in the past that are local attorneys that can basically accommodate getting done what you need done to get the child back. I’m not talking about doing kidnapping or anything like that. We do not condone illegal activities, but there are ways to compel people to return children back to the custodial parent.
Let’s use Morocco as an example. If you try hard enough and you look at their laws in Morocco, rules may exist that the parent who took the children has violated. If you try to prosecute those laws against them, you can take the certainly make the foreign country less welcoming for them, where in the United States, you can’t do that.
You can’t go to somebody in the United States and say, “I have a criminal case against you. I’m going to prosecute it if you don’t do this.” However, that may work in another country. There are people that would be our agents in those other places can do that.
Attorney Gary Warren’s Firm Has a Great Deal of Experience Resolving International Child Custody Disputes and Other Divorce Issues
We’re very successful in working out these problems in international situations. This firm has a lot of experience. I’ve worked in many countries, for example, in Jordan. We’ve worked in Spain. We’ve worked in Latin American countries, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Venezuela. In Asia, we’ve worked with China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Creativity and Determination Are Essential to Resolving Issues in Foreign Countries
We have worked throughout these countries and you can solve custody and divorce issues in any of these countries, but you’ve got to have determination and you have to be willing to figure out very creative solutions to the problems.