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New bill has international custody considerations

Proposed legislation that was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives in December spells out what the U.S. can do if a foreign country fails to comply with the Hague international abduction treaty when a child is taken from Florida or any other state. U.S. State Department statistics show that in 2013, non-custodial parents abducted more than 1,000 children and moved with them to another country. The bill is now in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and hearings have already begun.

A Colorado father has been going through such a battle after his ex-wife, the mother of their children, took them to Argentina in violation of a U.S. court order. The Supreme Court of Argentina recently issued its final ruling in favor of the father, and he is waiting on an order of return to be issued by the U.S. State Department.

If the bill that is being discussed in the Senate should become law, the U.S. could take numerous steps, including threatening economic sanctions, if a country that is a signatory to the Hague treaty, as are Argentina and the United States, does not comply with its requirements. The Colorado father in this case believes that if the law were already in place, his ordeal trying to return his daughters would have been over in a year instead of the three-and-a-half years it has taken.

In any custody agreement, the best interests of the child ideally take paramount consideration. Often, making sure that the custody arrangement adheres to all aspects of applicable law helps to assure that the agreement will endure and not affect the child with more upheaval in the future.

Source: CNN, "U.S. Dad Wins Huge Custody Fight", Ana Cabrera and Elizabeth Stuart, March 31, 2014

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