How Did Controversial International Custody Case Get So Complex?

Media outlets all over the nation are currently reporting on a story that has been characterized as the worst nightmare of every divorced parent. The story involves two little girls whose mother illegally took her children to Argentina to live after an American judge ruled against her request to relocate with them there. The girls’ father is an American and has been waiting to see his daughters again for more than three years.

When parents end their relationship with each other but both desire to continue their relationships with their children, heated child custody disputes can arise. Among the most volatile situations parents can find themselves in are those in which a parent essentially abducts his or her own children and takes them to a foreign country.

The reasons why this case has dragged on for so long are complex. Federal prosecutors are empowered to both investigate parents who abduct their children and to prosecute those parents. However, American prosecutors can do little to enforce the law if the children have been abducted and taken to a country that will not order those children to be returned to the U.S.

If the country where the children are residing is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction, the children will often be ordered to return according to the provisions laid out in that international treaty.

However, other obstacles may block the path to their return. For example, this case has been appealed within the Argentinean legal system all the way to the Supreme Court. Legal delays can take significant time.

If you are going through a custody battle and fear that your spouse may be a flight risk, you should alert your attorney to this fact immediately. In addition, if your children have been illegally taken out of the country by your co-parent, please consult an attorney experienced in international child custody cases.

Source: Huffington Post, “Dennis Burns Waits For Argentinian Supreme Court To Rule On Return Of Abducted Daughters,” Nov. 12, 2013

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