Divorce and family law attorneys often claim that they’ve seen it all, and indeed the permutations of family relationships and interesting blended family dynamics that drive court custody cases have become more commonplace than they were fifty or sixty years ago in the U.S. But that’s just the thing: for one custody lawyer in San Antonio, the case only begins in the United States. Where it ends remains to be seen, since Natalie Baker and her two children have escaped from Bexar County to Dubai, from which they’re trying to figure out their uncertain future.
An overseas custody battle is no walk in the park for any custody lawyer in San Antonio or anywhere else, but Baker’s attorneys are doing their best, especially given Baker’s very real fear that “if she has to bring the kids to the courthouse and to the father that they will be lost to her, that she will never see them again.” That fear, for a mother, appears to be enough to keep her children far, far away from danger.
And Dubai is pretty far, both in terms of distance and cultural familiarity for the Baker kids, who are only four and six years old. But of anyone, a devoted mother is determined to see the case through to the end, and she’s got a dedicated custody lawyer in San Antonio willing to work with her on the issues. Unfortunately, “she lost an appeal to move her custody battle from Dubai to Bexar County,” and so Baker has remained essentially in exile, literally in hiding.
She may or may not be in Dubai now, since Baker’s custody lawyer from San Antonio is speaking up on her behalf, stating that “she’s in hiding right now to keep her children from being forcibly removed from this country and taken to the United Arab Emirates,” where she and her husband worked for the past two years as diplomats with the U.S. State Department. Maintaining legal residence in San Antonio made Baker hopeful that her custody case could be transferred home, where she would enjoy more of the legal protections of a U.S. citizen on her home soil.
But even her custody lawyer in San Antonio couldn’t convince the courts to make it happen, when “two courts ruled any child custody hearings must be conducted in their ‘home state,’ where they resided for the last six months.” This was devastating news for Baker, where UAE law “varies greatly from U.S. law,” and her attorneys are working tirelessly to invoke special circumstances that might allow Baker to change “home states” if they can prove that the UAE’s child custody laws “violate fundamental principles of human rights” under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
For now, the nightmare drags on, as it seems to be for Ms. Baker a losing battle that she’s fighting, but like a true Texan, she will continue to fight, and having served her country abroad for the last two years, she knows the power of American values and justice, and she keeps hoping things will work out in her family’s favor.