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Father embroiled in international child custody battle

Sharing custody of a child can be a very difficult and trying experience for divorced parents across Texas. But while it can be difficult enough to be just a town or state away from a child who is with his or her other parent, imagine being separated by an ocean or an entire continent.

This is often the very painful experience that parents may go through when they are involved in an international child custody dispute. Sadly, there are about 1,200 cases reported every year involving a parent who unlawfully takes a child to another country against court orders. One father in another state recently opened up about the battle he has been fighting to regain custody of his children who were taken out of the country by their mother.

After five years of marriage, the man and his then-wife decided to divorce. It started off as an amicable process focused on protecting their young children, but three years ago, the mother requested permission to take the girls to Argentina. Her request was denied and rather than pursuing legal options to appeal the ruling, she took her two daughters and fled to Argentina without permission from the court or the father, who had since been named the primary residential parent.

Now the father is fighting to get his children back. But like other fathers and mothers in his position, trying to work out these international disputes has proven to be very difficult. While both the U.S. and Argentina have agreed to comply with the terms of the Hague Convention, which governs international child custody disputes, it could take at least another year before the daughters are returned to their father.

International custody disputes complicate an already-complex system of negotiating resolutions to violations of a custody arrangement. Court hearings, appeals and foreign policies and laws can make it difficult for a parent in the U.S. to obtain a timely and satisfactory outcome, and geography and finances can make it nearly impossible for a parent to even see their child until a ruling has been made.

However, parents can fight to have their children returned to them with the help of an attorney. By working with international officials, collaborating with domestic authorities and gaining awareness through media coverage, an attorney can help prompt a response and get a child back to his or her parent in the U.S. safely.

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

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