International cooperation pays off in child abduction case

One of our posts last week focused on international child abduction. In cases of child custody disputes, one parent may take their child and flee the country in order to violate a custody order that is unfavorable to them, or simply to try and keep the other parent out of the picture.

Thankfully, the United States is a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Countries who signed the pact agreed to aid one another in enforcing child custody rulings and extraditing parents who abduct their own children.

One of the most prominent holdouts to the Hague pact was Japan, which did not ratify the convention until earlier this year. Prior to that, Japan was known as a relatively safe place for women to flee with their abducted children because the country’s child custody laws heavily favor mothers. Japan’s decision to finally ratify the Hague pact was a victory for fathers’ rights as well as parental rights in general.

This week, news sources reported that the Hague pact was used in the first case (since ratification) involving a Japanese child. A Japanese couple has been in separation and divorce proceedings since sometime last year. In March, the mother took their child to Britain for what she said was a business trip.

The two did not return, however. Recently, a British court ordered that the 7-year-old child be returned to Japan, where custody will be formally sorted out.

Without first-hand experience, it is difficult to fully appreciate the feelings of fear and helplessness that parents must suffer when their child has been abducted by the other parent. Thankfully, Japan’s decision to finally ratify the Hague pact means that child-abducting parents have one less place to hide, and parents left behind are not left all alone.

Source: Global Post, “Hague pact used to return Japanese child for 1st time,” July 29, 2014

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