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When custody battles go overseas

According to State Department data, approximately 7,000 children in the U.S. were taken abroad to another country by one parent between 2012 and 2008. When this happens, custody orders by U.S. courts can become impossible to enforce in other countries. While the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction exists to help resolve these disputes, some countries have not signed the treaty or don't abide by its rules. Some families in Connecticut involved in these struggles are well aware of the issues that international parental abduction raises.

A New Jersey sheriff and former Marine has gone public with his own experience with an overseas child custody battle. There is currently a push in Washington, D.C., for politicians to get more aggressive with imposing some diplomatic influence overseas. The State Department has yet to acquiesce to such requests.

Japan committed to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in June 2013. This convention will help decide the jurisdiction of international custody battles. The parents who are already in a custody dispute with Japan are not affected, however. These people remain a high priority for officials in the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. Some legislators are pushing a bill that would give the President power to intervene directly, as well as increase the responsibilities of the State Department.

Parents who find themselves in an international custody dispute often hire a family law attorney to help them deal with the legal situation. A lawyer may help discover how if the Hague Convention was signed by the country any children are living in and help determine how the treaty will affect any custody disputes. If the court in the U.S. can assert jurisdiction, then the custody dispute will be heard in the U.S.

Source: NirthJersey.com, "Bill may help 'left-behind parents' in global child custody fights", Herb Jackson, December 11, 2013

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