When parents divorce in New Jersey, they will have to create a child custody agreement, which will determine which parent the children will live with and the rights of the other parent to visit the children. Child custody issues can become more much complex, however, when the parent with sole or primary custody later wants to relocate farther from the other parent.
One mother faces such difficulties, but they are compounded by the fact that her ex-husband moved with their three children not just out of the state, but out of the country entirely. The couple divorced in 2008, and the father received custody of the children. The custody agreement contained a provision that the father, originally from Gaza, could relocate with the children to a foreign country, provided that the mother gave her consent.
The couple lived nearby after the divorce when the father informed the mother of his plan to take the children to Gaza for a family wedding earlier this year. The father brought the children to the wedding, but has remained in Gaza with no intention of returning. According to the mother, her ex-husband used the wedding as a pretext to remove the children and showed her false return flight information. By contrast, the father asserts that he acted in compliance with the custody agreement and obtained the mother's consent.
Although the man faces state and federal charges in the matter, including aggravated interference with parental custody, it will be difficult for the mother to get her children back. Gaza is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, which can be used to return children removed against the law. In addition, although U.S. law enforcement has issued a warrant for the man's arrest, and it can be served by Interpol, Gaza authorities are under no obligation to abide by it.
While this child relocation case is uncommonly difficult, it highlights the challenges that one parent faces when the other moves the children away in apparent contravention of the child custody agreement.
Source: Associated Press, "US authorities claim divorced father illegally moved 3 children from Kansas to his native Gaza," Ibrahim Barzak and Najib Jobain, May 2, 2012.