What Tom and Gisele’s Divorce Teaches About International Child Custody

Providing Holistic, Child-Centered Solutions Throughout the Coral Gables and Miami-Dade County Areas for High-Conflict and Transitioning Families

International supermodel Gisele Bündchen and star quarterback Tom Brady officially finalized their divorce in late October after months of rumors that their marriage was on the rocks. The couple is ending their marriage of 13 years amicably, though Tom has stated that it was a “painful and difficult” decision. It appears that Gisele chose to initiate the divorce after years of disappointment that Tom continues to play football instead of retiring after seven Super Bowl wins and dedicating more time to the family. 

Despite this disagreement, Tom and Gisele have made it clear that their children remain their top priority and that they are sharing parental rights. In their respective announcements, they stated that they intend to “continue to work together as parents” to give their two children a supportive and stable environment. 

The couple’s parenting plan and custody order are not being made public to protect their privacy. However, there are a few details that they most likely address. In Florida, parenting plans should include clear guidelines for how parents will divide their children’s time, the expectations for exchanging custody, and, most importantly, any restrictions or requirements placed on the parents regarding cross-border travel. 

That final requirement is essential for Tom and Gisele due to their high-flying careers. Tom travels around the country weekly during the football season, frequently spending every weekend in a different state. Meanwhile, Gisele’s international modeling career and Brazilian citizenship mean she often spends time out of the country. As such, they undoubtedly developed a clear and comprehensive policy regarding where each parent can take the children and how they need to notify the other regarding their children’s whereabouts.

However, celebrities are far from the only parents who may benefit from addressing international custody in their parenting plans. If you, your spouse, or your child have dual citizenship, it’s just as crucial for your family. Here’s what you need to know about international cross-border custody laws and how to address possible international disputes.

The Complications of International Custody

International legal matters are complicated, and the involvement of children can make them more so. The most fundamental issue with any international legal dispute is that of jurisdiction. Every country has unique legislation regarding marriage, divorce, child custody, and other family law disputes. If two parents have citizenships in different countries, they need to determine which country has jurisdiction to determine the laws and the court that will oversee their dispute. 

This is critical because if one country does not recognize that the other has jurisdiction, it may not enforce the orders that country implements. For instance, Brazil may not choose to enforce U.S. legal orders if it believes that the U.S. did not have jurisdiction over the case. 

The issues surrounding jurisdiction and recognition of other countries’ legal orders can put children at risk of parental kidnapping. This occurs if one parent removes a child from the country without the other parent’s approval or refuses to return them to the other parent according to their parenting plan. The left-behind parent and the children are having their rights to retain a relationship violated. Without appropriate legal assistance, it can be challenging for the left-behind parent to regain custody of their children in international parental kidnapping cases

How to Manage International Custody Concerns in Your Divorce

If multiple countries may be involved in your custody dispute, it’s necessary to take action quickly. The sooner you develop a comprehensive parenting plan, the less likely it is that parental kidnapping will succeed. Here’s how you can address these concerns efficiently and effectively. 

Hire Expert Legal Representation

The first thing you should do in any custody dispute is to consult with an experienced family law attorney. At a minimum, you should work with a lawyer in the country where you would like your child to remain. This attorney will advocate for you and your child in court and help you pursue a custody order that’s fair and just.

If you suspect your co-parent wants to remove your children from the country, you may also wish to consult with a lawyer in the country where your co-parent intends to move. They can coordinate with you and your local attorney to understand how the laws are different, when the government assumes it has jurisdiction, and what you may need to do to ensure your children are returned to you. 

File Custody Claims in the Correct Country

Under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, countries that have signed the treaty agree to return abducted children to the “status quo” country where they were regularly living before being abducted. This is the country in which custody issues will be heard, and it is often where you should file your claim. More than 100 countries have signed the convention thus far. 

You should also work to file your custody claim before your co-parent moves your children or files a claim in another country. Both of these actions can make it more difficult to invoke the Hague Convention and retain custody of your children. By filing first and in your children’s primary country of residence, you minimize the risk that they are moved and not returned to you. 

Navigate Your International Custody Case With Expert Legal Guidance

Parents like Tom and Gisele may not worry about parental kidnapping because they have the resources to visit their children anywhere in the world. Despite this, they still need to consider international custody concerns when drafting their parenting plans. If you’re concerned that your abusive spouse may try to move your children to a country where you cannot visit them, addressing international custody is even more vital for you.At The Hache Law Firm P.A., we understand your concerns about parental kidnapping and international custody. We will work with you to produce tailored, proactive solutions to your parenting dispute to protect your children. Schedule your consultation today to learn how we can help.