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The problems of international child abduction

Pennsylvania parents may be surprised to learn that more than 1,000 American children are abducted and taken out of the country each year. A noncustodial parent is often the abductor, and getting these children back presents a serious challenge to parents, diplomats and law enforcement agencies. The U.S. Department of State say that at least 8,000 of these child abduction cases occurred between 2008 and 2013, and about half of the children abducted have yet to return home.

Foreign governments are not always eager to assist the Department of State in child abduction cases due to worries over bad publicity or concerns over matters such as trade agreements. However, a law passed in 2014 provides U.S. officials with additional tools to encourage the cooperation of reluctant foreign governments. A list of countries involved in these cases will be generated by the Department of State each year, and failure to cooperate with American law enforcement or diplomatic efforts could lead to penalties including trade sanctions.

The issue of international child abduction was addressed in 1980 by the The Hague Conference on Private International Law, and 93 nations have pledged to do their part to protect children by signing a multilateral treaty. However, this treaty can only help in cases where the location of the missing child is known.

A family law attorney will likely have experienced how difficult it can be to reach an amicable resolution when dealing with child custody issues, and the emotional strain of these negotiations can sometimes lead parents to act rashly. An attorney can represent a client in a child custody hearing if a negotiated arrangement is impossible to obtain.

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