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International abductions a concern in custody disputes

New York parents who are dealing with child custody issues may be interested to learn around 1,000 children are abducted annually by the other parent. In 2014, new legislation was passed in the United States to better address international child abductions. The legislation was pushed through by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey who was instrumental in helping a father get his son back from Brazil in 2009 after his mother abducted him and took him there in 2004.

Another prominent case is just coming to trial and deals with a woman who took her 8-year-old daughter to Central America and returned only after the child had turned 18. With her second husband, she is facing charges of witness tampering and custodial interference.

Another case involves a woman who dissolved the civil union she had with her partner and took their child to Central America. Along with two other people, she is charged with conspiracy and international parental kidnapping.

Although 93 countries are signed on to an international document that pledges to try to protect children from international kidnapping, such cases still encounter obstacles and delays. Under the new legislation, the State Department will publish a list annually of countries where kidnappings has happened. A list of actions to deal with foreign abductions has also been drawn up.

Custody and visitation issues can be contentious, but even in amicable separations, parents may wish to work with an attorney and draw up a legal agreement. If there are disputes, a court order can make it easier for a parent to return to court and ask that an order be enforced. Parents who are concerned about international abductions may also want to ask for additional safeguards that will lessen the chances of the child being removed from the country.

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