Parents in California likely prefer not to think about children being abducted by a parent and taken abroad, but U.S. Department of State figures reveal that this happens more than 1,000 times each year. The department attempts to help parents to secure the return of these children, but their efforts are only successful in about half of the cases that it becomes involved in.
One of the problems that the Office of Children’s Issues runs into when it seeks to resolve international child custody disputes is a lack of cooperation on the part of the governments of some foreign countries. This is sometimes blamed on a fear of negative publicity or a concern over trade agreements. The issue has been addressed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and the United States is one of 93 nations that are signatories to the resulting treaty.
However, uncooperative foreign governments remain a problem for Department of State officials, and Congress passed a bill in 2014 that calls for a list of these countries to be publicly revealed each year. It is hoped that simply being on this list will be enough to secure cooperation in child abduction cases, but penalties up to and including trade sanctions could be applied if necessary.
Child custody disputes can often become emotional and heated, and family law attorneys may seek to help parents to remember that the best interests of the child should be the primary concern. Sometimes parents abduct their children because they feel that they will be treated unfairly by the legal system, and an attorney familiar with this type of dispute may be able to recognize warning signs indicating that a child could be in jeopardy.