Interstate & International Family Law Attorneys

Protecting Your Family’s Rights Across Borders

Father and son after an international family law case

Interstate and international family law applies if you or your spouse live in other states or countries and one party files for divorce and/or child custody. Our experienced team at Lewellen | Strebe | Hopper Family Law Group will access your case and determine the best legal strategy

State lines and international borders can add additional wrinkles to your divorce or child custody case. We understand that divorce and child custody agreements are emotional, stressful, and complex even when both parties reside in the same state or country.

Our experienced interstate and international family law attorneys have helped people just like you create the best legal strategy to achieve the best outcome.

When you choose to partner with our family law firm, you can rest assured that you will have the legal knowledge and experience that has successfully navigated divorce and child custody proceedings across the United States and internationally.

Schedule Your Free Interstate & International Family Law Consultation Today

What Laws Govern Interstate Divorce & Child Custody?

The state where you or your former partner first file for divorce generally controls the divorce proceedings.

If you file for divorce in California, we can help you with all issues in the divorce including child custody, child support, mediation, spousal support and property division.

California adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to determine whose laws apply when one or more states or countries have jurisdiction over children. The UCCJEA also prevent parents from taking children out of state purely because of spite, to find a state with more appealing laws, or to move the child custody case to a location that is financially more difficult for the other parent to seek proper representation. Only Massachusetts has not adopted the UCCJEA to date, the remaining 49 U.S. States, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands have all adopted it.

California retains jurisdiction to enforce all orders made in California. If however, everyone has left California, the case may still properly be heard in California since the UCCJEA dictates a custody/visitation order can also be registered in the state where the child resided for the six months immediately preceding the commencement of a child custody proceeding. [Not sure what this last sentence is trying to say: California custody orders can also be registered out of state and in foreign countries after either party establishes residency in their new state/country and be modified outside of California. OR If you have a California custody order and have already moved, you can register it in your new state/country to modify.

In most cases, California laws require relocating parents to seek approval before moving with children out of state. Failure to obtain written permission from the other parent or a court order granting permission to move, could result in the court requiring the moving party to return to California until the matter is resolved. Additionally, the parent who moved with the child may be found in contempt of court for violating an existing child custody arrangement if one existed and the non-moving parent lost custodial time.

What Laws Govern International Divorce & Child Custody?

More than 75 countries are members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, which includes several divorce-related conventions, including:

  • Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations
  • Convention on the Law Applicable to Matrimonial Property Regimes
  • Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
  • Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.

Not all member countries have ratified these conventions, but they are still applicable, depending on the case, and are critical in resolving issues that extend across international borders.

If you are afraid your former spouse will take your children out of the country or move back to your home country while maintaining joint custody, we can help you navigate and understand the various Hague Conventions.

Proven Interstate & International Process

Our interstate and international family law attorneys will devise a legal strategy unique to your situation, starting with our proven steps that include:

Free Initial Consultation

We understand that interstate or international divorce can be a personal and emotional experience with unique and sometimes globe-spanning challenges. Our process starts with a free one-hour initial consultation with our attorneys, who will review your case and answer your questions.

Establish Goals and Method

Attorneys Kimberly Lewellen, Michael Strebe, Jason Hopper, and Morgan Montoya, Theresita Perez and Laura Matsie will examine the interstate or international family law pertaining to your case and work with you to establish your goals and the legal tools to best achieve them.

Prepare A Legal Strategy

Once we understand all the aspects of your case, we can establish what type of legal strategies are available to you and gather any documents required by the California Family Courts or international courts.

Mediation Point 4
We Aggressively Represent You in Court

If your interstate or international family law case goes to court, you can have peace of mind that the attorneys at Lewellen | Strebe | Hopper Family Law Group have years of experience to obtain the best result for our clients.

Kimberly is Caring and Professional. I would recommend her to anyone who is seeking legal counsel in the matter of family law

“Kimberly is currently my attorney in an ongoing legal case. She is a great person to work with while I am going through this very difficult time in my life. She is knowledgeable on every matter I have brought to her and has even spoken with other attorneys in her firm to make sure we are taking the best steps for the most beneficial outcome…” ~ Avvo

Don’t let state or international boundaries stand in your way.

Additional Family Law Services We Provide

Divorce cases can vary due to many factors, including children, property division, and high-wealth cases. Our family law attorneys and professionals provide our clients with an exceptional depth of experience handling cases involving a wide range of legal issues, including:

  • Divorce
  • Child Custody
  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
  • Division of Property
  • Spousal Support
  • Post Nuptial Agreements

Frequently Asked Questions About Interstate & International Family Law

How Long Does An International Family Law Case Take?

The time it takes to resolve your case depends on the country, which may not abide by California family law.

To combat child abduction cases, the Hague Convention enacted the concept of habitual residence in 1980. Its effectiveness is limited to the countries that signed the treaty. Still, under the concept, when a divorce occurs, the couple’s children should continue to reside in their country of primary residence before the divorce.

More complicated and famous international family law cases have taken several years to conclude, but your timetable will depend on your specific set of circumstances.

Which Country Has Jurisdiction In My Divorce?

Other countries have different laws and divorce protocols, and more than one country can have jurisdiction in an international divorce case.

Many people facing international divorce find the laws in the United States allow them to reach a fair settlement with their spouse. However, whichever party files first and personally serves the other party their court documents can determine the court that oversees your divorce proceedings.