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Proposed legislation targets parental abductions

Connecticut residents may be interested in new developments that may make it easier for American parents to regain custody of children who have been unlawfully taken to other countries by the other parent. According to the State Department, more than 7,000 children were taken to a foreign country by a parent between 2008 and 2012. Those children often leave behind parents who have few options when it comes to child custody or visitation.

One father in New Jersey has suffered through this scenario for seven years. He and his wife divorced shortly after he returned from a deployment to Iraq. During the divorce proceedings, a judge granted joint custody and revoked the children's passports. However, the children's mother had new passports issued and fled to Japan with the children in tow, and the father has been fighting to see them ever since.

A New Jersey congressman has authored legislation that he believes would force the State Department to act more assertively in parental kidnapping cases. He says the law would require the President to take specific actions if the countries do not comply with the return of kidnapped children. The law would also require the State Department to sign private agreements with countries that are not signatories to the existing multilateral treaty dealing with this issue.

While more action from the government would be helpful, there are still many parents who are unable to see their children who have been taken away from them in this manner. Divorce can be complicated and emotionally intense, with parents sometimes making decisions that are not necessarily in the best interest of the children. It is hoped that the threat of economic sanctions may convince some countries to finally acknowledge and abide by existing custody orders.

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

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