International child custody disputes are complex and often heartbreaking. The dispute can be exacerbated when one parent flees the country with the children. Depending on which country the parent takes the children to, there may or may not be laws in place to assist the parent left in the U.S. An example of such as case comes out of Snowmass, Colorado, and shows just how slowly the courts in this country and others may be to act.
A man is still fighting to get his daughters back in the U.S. after their mother fled to Argentina with them three years ago. Custody of the girls, now ages 4 and 7, was awarded to the father after a 13-month court battle, in which the mother had requested permission to take the children to Argentina. The court ordered the children were to remain in the U.S.; however, the mother fled to Argentina three weeks after the judge ruled on the child custody case.
The father has visited the girls in Argentina, although the last visit only lasted five minutes. The mother and her attorneys appeared and the man was served with “general criminal charges against women and children.” There was no reasoning provided. A camera crew from CNN had accompanied the father for this visit, which was the seventh time he has traveled to Argentina to see his daughters.
The father is still waiting for his case to go before the Supreme Court of Buenos Aires. An appellate court ruled in his favor, but the mother filed an appeal. Argentina is one of over 80 countries that signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This treaty is supposed to make it easier for cases involving child abductions to be resolved faster. The treaty dictates that the father should have only had to wait six to eight weeks to have a custody hearing about whether the children should be returned to the U.S. That first hearing, though, took over two years to happen.
The laws governing child custody cases involving the U.S. and another country can be complicated. If you find you are in a similar situation, it’s best to speak with an attorney experienced in such cases to determine what your options may be.
Source: cnn.com, “Colorado Dad Fights – and Waits – for Daughters Taken By Mom to Argentina” Elizabeth Stuart and Ana Cabrera, Nov. 12, 2013