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International abduction targeted in bill

New Mexico parents who have suffered the heartbreak of their children being abducted and taken overseas may be heartened by the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passing a child custody initiative called The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013. The bill was named for a son and father who were separated for five years when the boy was spirited away to Brazil by his biological mother, who is from that country.

The bill was designed to allow the U.S. president to hit with sanctions countries that allow abducted children to remain there unlawfully. New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith wrote the bill and addressed the House before the vote was taken, citing statistics showing that more than 1,000 international abductions of children are reported to U.S. authorities every year. He added that State Department records indicated that 7,000 American children were removed to foreign countries against their American parent's wishes from 2008 to 2012. Now that the bill passed the House, the Senate was expected to consider it for passage.

The extant international agreement on the issue is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, but not every country has signed off on the treaty. The agreement uses a civil framework to return children to their American parents, but some of the countries that are signatories don't always enforce it.

International abduction may soon bring penalties to countries allowing the practice. Closer to home, however, many child custody disputes involve the relocation of the custodial parent and their children to another U.S. state.

Source: NJ.com, "Congress passes international child abduction bill named after Tinton Falls man", Christopher Robbins , December 12, 2013

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