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International parental abduction threatens father's rights

10526224_s.jpgThere are few legal battles that rival child custody disputes when it comes to the value of what is at stake. Under Illinois law, courts are tasked with deciding child custody or visitation disputes based on the best interests of the children involved. That means that it is imperative for parents to be able to prove to a judge why it is in a child's best interest to be in their care.

In some cases, child custody cases are much more difficult than that. When a child custody dispute crosses international borders, judges in Illinois may lose jurisdiction to make decisions about a child's best interests. In other cases, it becomes nearly impossible to enforce court orders. This is the situation that a father has recently found himself in after his ex-wife kidnapped their two daughters and took them to Argentina. 

International child abduction is committed by parents far more often than many people realize. According to the U.S. State Department, about 1,200 new cases of such parental abduction occur each year. Seventy percent of these abductions are committed by mothers.

In this recent case, the parents had been tied up in a contentious divorce that involved allegations of domestic abuse against the man. A judge ruled that those allegations were unfounded, and primary physical custody of the two girls, then 1 and 3, was awarded to the father.

Several weeks later, the ex-wife took the daughters to Argentina without permission of their father. A judge has ordered her to return the children to the U.S., but the enforcement of this order could take years due to the complexities of international child custody orders.

Although child custody disputes that cross international borders can become extremely complicated, it is important for parents not to lose hope. There may be legal options available to protect the interests of your children.

Source: Huffington Post, "Dennis Burns Waits For Argentinian Supreme Court To Rule On Return Of Abducted Daughters," Nov. 12, 2013 

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