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International custody disputes are tough, legislation may help

Having to face a child custody dispute, even in the most amicable of situations, is difficult. The transition from having your child involved in your life each day to a designated schedule can be very disheartening and stressful. Still, some parents have had to fight for their children in what could be the hardest place for a custody battle to occur: internationally.

In one such child custody situation, a man from Tinton Falls, New Jersey, lost his son when his wife took the boy to Brazil and chose not to return.

Their son was 4-years-old in 2004 when the man's wife took the boy. She remarried, but later died while giving birth to another child.

An international custody dispute was initiated for the son after her death. In 2009, the father from New Jersey finally had his son returned to him. Since then, the father has said that his son is a normal, happy child. He is in sixth grade now and he likes basketball.

Another person from Rutherford, New Jersey is upset because she has not seen her grandchildren in years. Her son is a member of the U.S. Marines and he was stationed in Iraq. When he returned home, he found out that his wife was having an affair. She soon left the country, traveling to Japan and is refusing to allow the father of their two children to visit.

Sadly, stories like these are not uncommon, in yet another international custody battle, a father has not seen his daughter since July 2003. That was when he was stationed on a U.S. Navy base in Japan. His wife was a Japanese native. During their time living on base, she decided to leave with their daughter and stop communicating with the father. The woman eventually died, but now the child's grandmother refuses to return the daughter to her father.

The U.S. State Department says that parents have reported about 3,200 abduction cases such as these between 2008 and 2010. Approximately 4,700 children were involved in those cases.

In response to these many cases, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that would allow the federal government to place sanctions against countries that refuse to cooperate in such custody disputes. The sanctions could be as minimal as a public rebuke, but could be as serious as trade and credit suspensions.

Source: Daily Record, "International N.J. custody dispute spurs legislation for sanctions," March 27, 2012

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