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Important international custody bill is being considered

An important piece of proposed federal legislation could ultimately impact the lives of separated children and parents all over the nation if the Senate passes it. Several days ago, the House passed a measure that aims to make certain international child custody situations far more just and to place pressure on foreign governments to release children who have been illegally abducted by their parents.

Currently, if a parent illegally takes his or her children to another country to live, the parent remaining in the United States must rely on diplomatic goodwill and the Hague Abduction Conventions to ensure that the children are safely returned to the United States. However, the Hague Conventions do not provide for any enforcement mechanisms if nations harboring abducted children do not comply with the treaty. In addition, some nations simply refuse to comply with international legal standards that insist that abducted children should be returned to their other parent, provided that the other parent is not abusive or otherwise deemed unfit.

As a result, parents residing in the U.S. sometimes have very few opportunities to be rightfully reunited with their children who have been taken overseas.

The proposed legislation now being considered by the Senate would allow the federal government to impose sanctions against any nation that habitually harbors illegally abducted children. The bill is likely to pass, given that it was granted unanimous support in the House. If passed, parents who have yet to be reunited with their illegally abducted children may have a new reason for hope.

Source: The Daily Journal, "It's time for U.S. Senate to approve Goldman bill," Dec. 20, 2013

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