Child custody will be a central issue in the upcoming divorce of Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren. The couple plans to share custody.
According to reports, and Nordegren has expressed her desire to be free to take the children to her native Sweden. However, as demonstrated by several recent international child custody disputes that made national news, complex legal issues can arise when one parent plans on international travel or living abroad with children.
International Child Custody Cases Are Complex
Earlier this month, Christopher Savoie of Tennessee made news after being released from a Japanese jail after trying to retrieve his children in an international custody dispute. His wife had taken his children to Japan in violation of their child custody order and there was no legal recourse for him in Japan.
In April, Houston father Kelvin Birotte succeeded after four years in obtaining an order from a Brazilian judge for the return of his son. David Goldman of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, finally had his son returned to him in December after a five-year struggle.
International child custody disputes are generally resolved via the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which requires that when any child is unlawfully taken abroad, he or she must be immediately returned to his or her country of habitual residence, which in that case was the U.S. Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention. During the Goldman case, Brazilian courts issues orders violating the Convention.
To handle any issues that may arise surrounding the international child custody or visitation, Woods is reported to have hired attorney Thomas Sasser of the West Palm Beach, Florida, firm of Sasser, Cestero & Sasser, P.A. Sasser represented NASCAR star Jeff Gordon in his divorce and is said to be familiar with complex and international child custody issues.
Ultimately, a sound child custody and visitation agreement as well as a great deal of trust will be required. According to reports, the couple is striving to minimize conflict over the children. They want what is best for their kids and are determined not to allow the situation to get ugly.
“Tiger Woods hires divorce lawyer in bid for joint child custody: Reports” (Vancouver Sun, May 10, 2010)