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U.S. fathers seek international child-custody dispute resolution

Disputes over custody of minor children are common throughout the United States, including in Arkansas. International child custody disputes may be less common but their effects can be just as great on the lives of the parents and children involved.

Recently, a group of U.S. fathers urged Japanese government officials to resolve existing disputes involving Japanese parents who had taken children from the United States, often in violation of court orders. Some 20 members and supporters of Bring Abducted Children Home, the activist group requesting help from the Japanese government, marched through the U.S. Capitol building.

One group of concerned fathers and congressmen submitted a petition to the Japanese embassy just a day before Japan officially adopted the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The 1980 convention lays down procedures for the return of children under age 16 who are unlawfully taken by one parent. The return process can be set in motion at the request of the other parent.

As of February, the U.S. State Department has been working on nearly 100 cases involving some 120 children taken to Japan by non-custodial parents.

The terms of the Hague Convention are not retroactive, however. Only those cases arising after Japan officially adopts the convention will be covered. Still, it can enable American parents to seek visitation rights regardless of when their child was taken to Japan.

Child-custody disputes in which one parent flees abroad with the child have become common over the last few years. These abductions usually occur before divorces have been finalized and details such as visitation rights with the best interests of the child in mind have not been determined by a court. In these situations, the guidance of a law firm experienced in dealing with such cases is highly advised.

Source: Global Post, “U.S. fathers urge Japan to comply with child custody treaty”, April 1, 2014

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