In the family-oriented culture of the Midwest, most Michigan parents understand the importance of spending time with their children. In cases of divorce and relocation, most parents also recognize the importance of promoting meaningful contact with the non-custodial parent. Unfortunately, the efforts of a 33-year-old American woman to promote meaningful contact between her 6-year-old daughter and the girl’s Brazilian father have turned into an international child custody dispute. Police in the South American country of Brazil have confiscated their passports, preventing the mother and child from leaving the country.

The woman was given full custody in 2009 after the couple split. According to reports, the father of the 6-year-old was removed from the U.S. for entering the country illegally. Sometime in May, the mother entered Brazil with her daughter to re-establish contact with the father, whom the girl had not seen in nearly three years. However, after the woman did not show up with the child to meet the father, he filed court papers to confiscate their passports.

If a Brazilian judge believes that a parent intends take a child out of the country without the permission of the other parent, passports may be confiscated. In this case, the man’s request was granted. However, the man denies that he is seeking child custody. It is unclear what the outcome of this international child custody dispute will be. The woman, however, is working with United States Embassy in Brazil.

Whether taking place overseas or closer to home, child custody disputes are emotional issues, and can sometimes cloud a parent’s judgment. Regardless of the differences parents may have, it is important to keep the best interest of the child in mind. In Michigan, courts use a 12-factor test when determining child custody. It is important for anyone is a child custody dispute to contact a family law attorney to have the specifics of one’s custody case evaluated, so that disputes don’t escalate into emergencies.

Source: NBC News, “American mom, daughter, 6, stuck in Brazil in child custody battle,” Bridget Murphy, July 5, 2013