People in Maryland may have heard about a bill that has garnered a lot of bipartisan support on Capitol Hill recently. In the midst of partisan gridlock on so many issues, supporters are hopeful that a bill on child abduction will pass. The bill aims to bring child victims of international abduction back to the United States, where they can be reunited with their long-lost parents and loved ones. The bill passed the House with resounding support on a 398-0 vote, and now awaits Senate approval, which will hopefully occur very soon.
There are currently not a lot of options for United States citizens when it comes to pressuring other countries to return children who have been abducted by parents or family members and taken out of the country. Since 1980, the United States has arranged the return of some 600 child victims of international abduction under the Hague Convention, which binds the United States and the other 80 or more countries who have agreed to its terms. But the process is still extremely lengthy and unfathomably expensive, when it works at all. The new bill would allow the president new powers to increase the pressure on countries who refuse to cooperate with the United States on these matters, including the potential to levy economic sanctions or suspend aid.
One 13-year-old child was just triumphantly returned to his home after spending nearly 10 years in Brazil. His mother took her son on what was supposedly a two-week vacation, but the boy did not see his father again for close to a decade. Getting him back cost the father upwards of $700,000 in legal fees and travel back and forth between Brazil for custody proceedings.
Parents who have to fight child custody battles across international borders need the help of an experienced family law attorney, but may need support and diplomatic efforts from elected officials as well. This bill will hopefully allow parents in the United States to quickly and effectively enforce the right to bring these children home to the parents who love them.
Source: USA Today “Abduction bill could be approved by Senate this week,” Susanna Cervenka, Dec. 16, 2013