American fathers fight for access to abducted children, Part 1

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Paternity on Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Family law has garnered national attention over the course of the past month after ABC News released an investigation into a series of international child abduction cases involving Japanese-American couples. Paternity rights activists fervently support a group of American fathers who are struggling to regain access to their children. For these men, the battle began after their former wives took the couple’s children to Japan in violation of US child custody laws.

The American fathers told ABC News how seemingly easy it was for their former spouses to apply for travel documents through the Japanese embassy and illegally remove their children from the country. According to ABC, hundreds of children born in America are now living in Japan-a country widely acknowledged for its willingness to protect parents accused of international kidnapping.

For three decades, Japanese lawmakers have refused to sign the Hague Convention treaty, which would allow parents from other countries to seek the return of an abducted child living within Japanese borders. The US State Department claims that over 300 cases of international abduction involving Japan have been filed since 1994. Japan’s refusal to sign agree to the Hague Convention or cooperate with US diplomats has meant that very few of these cases has been resolved.

Japanese citizens have dramatically different views on divorce than the majority of Americans. For instance, in Japan it is very rare for parents to share custody of their children. Some experts point to this and other cultural differences as the reason why the Hague Convention treaty is so unpopular among Japanese lawmakers. Nevertheless, the State Department has reiterated its commitment to continue pursuing this issue in the hopes of achieving justice for American parents.

Our next post will continue discussing this international abduction investigation, as well as describe a few of the challenges facing some of the American fathers fighting to regain contact with their abducted children.

Source: ABC News, “Abducted to Japan: Hundreds of American Children Taken.” Sarah Netter and Abbie Boudreau, February 16, 2011.

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