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Judge: Mexican mother can keep children in Brooklyn

Immigrants throughout New York have to confront child custody issues relating to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. What usually happens is that one parent will take a child either out of or into the United States, and the parent who is left behind will petition to have the kids returned to their "habitual" residence. Like other child custody disputes, these cases are not simple and require legal guidance to achieve the best outcome.

Recently, a federal judge in New York ruled in favor of a Mexican mother living in Brooklyn. In 2010, she brought her three children to the U.S. after her husband allegedly became abusive. He denies that claim, and in 2011, referring to the Hague Convention, he petitioned to have his kids, ages 17, 15 and 10, returned to Mexico.

The mother argued that returning the children to Mexico would put them at risk of being harmed by their father. In weighing the aspects of the case, the judge decided there was not enough evidence to prove that the father might harm the children. However, the judge did find that two of kids -- the 15-year-old and the 10-year-old -- had adjusted well to living in Brooklyn, so those children can remain with their mother.

The Hague Convention only applies to children who are under 16, so the father's attempt to have his 17-year-old son returned was dismissed.

In his decision, the judge said that he was unwilling to "further fracture the family unit." He also referred to the Judgment of Solomon allegory when he said that sending the kids back to Mexico would be like "cutting the baby in half."

In all child custody disputes, the best interests of the children are the court's top priority. Determining what those best interests are, however, requires persuasive evidence. New York residents going through a child custody dispute will want to make all of the necessary legal preparations to ensure the strongest possible case.

Source: law.com, "Kids Born in Mexico Can Stay in New York, Federal Judge Rules," Andrew Keshner, March 14, 2013

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