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New bill may help children adbucted to foreign countries

According to the State Department, between 2008 and 2012, 7,000 children were taken out of the country by a parent and not returned. This leaves the remaining parent behind, trying to regain parental rights from foreign entities who have no incentive to assist them. Maryland parents who have been 'left behind" may be interested in a bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith that would require the president to take action in cases where countries do not cooperate in resolving abduction cases. The bill would also require the State Department to provide statistics and obtain agreements with countries not bound by the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

A State Department spokesperson disagreed that the bill would help, stating that there already are agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan but that they are not enforced. Smith argues that since the Hague Convention is not retroactive and will only affect future abductions, this bill is needed for current cases.

Some parents are concerned that the State Department has little interest in their problems. U.S. court orders have no jurisdiction in foreign countries, and these countries have little incentive to act against the wishes of their own citizens to enforce a foreign custody order. A private custody battle may not be high priority or may be politically inconvenient for the State Department.

Child custody disputes are not pleasant, and it benefits both parents and the child to arrive at workable custody and visitation agreements. For the best interests of the child, an attorney may help parents reach compromise in planning joint or shared custody.

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

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