Parental child abductions on the rise

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C posted in Child Custody on Monday, July 18, 2011

Child custody disputes involving international abductions are on the rise; a difficult family law problem some residents in St. Louis and throughout the country are forced to deal with every day.

Child custody battles often the most difficult, emotional and contentious parts of a divorce. When the dispute involves a foreign national, it can in some cases result in one parent leaving the country with the child or children involved in the case.

In 2010, about 1,500 children were illegally taken across U.S. borders to other nations; only 578 of the kids were returned to this country. From 1999 to 2009, about 6,966 international parental abduction cases were reported. Most of the children were taken to Mexico because of family ties to the country; sometimes because it’s simply a more convenient place to hide with a child than other options.

The international child custody abduction dilemma persists for a few reasons. Rarely do police officials get involved with abduction cases in custody battles; checks of departing parents and children at borders do not take place; and it is easy for parents to take the children during court-approved visits.

Those convicted of abducting their own children and fleeing to a foreign country can be sentenced to years in prison, but the potential punishment clearly isn’t deterring enough people from deciding to take their child out the country and away from our legal system.

The U.S. government has recently stepped in, placing bilingual case workers on abductions involving Mexico, Latin America and Canada. Also, U.S. House members have proposed an International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act.

Obviously, any divorce in which the possibility of an abduction exists needs to be handled with the utmost care by courts and all the parties involved.

Source: Houston Chronicle: “What happens if your ex abducts your child?” by Stewart M. Powell: July 4, 2011

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