Pennsylvania residents who have custody of one or more children may be surprised to learn that international child custody battles and abductions are becoming more common. One instance that exemplifies this growing trend is the abduction of an 8-year-old girl by her mother. The mother is facing criminal charges after illegally taking her daughter to Central America more than 10 years ago. Her case is about to go to trial, but many are wondering why it took so long to charge the mother for the abduction.
Between 2008 and 2013, there were approximately 8,000 documented cases of children being abducted by their parents. The U.S. State Department acknowledges that international abductions are a growing issue and that an alarming number of requests have been made to reunite victims of international abduction with their legal guardians. However, the government estimates that only about 50 percent of children taken to countries with international treaties are returned to their home country. As of 2015, 93 countries have signed an agreement indicating that efforts should be made to return abducted children to their nation of origin.
Although several countries agree that wrongfully removed children should be sent back to their rightful guardians, there are many obstacles blocking the return of thousands of children. Child custody cases are often highly emotional, which makes it difficult for national officials to diplomatically handle the issue. Additionally, parents and guardians with rightful custody in the United States may face numerous financial difficulties if they choose to engage in an international custody battle.
If a parent is still trying to obtain custody of his or her child, an attorney might also be able to gather information and legal resources to formulate a successful bid for custody. A family lawyer could also help those with rightful custody organize visitation agreements to ensure that the other parent doesn’t feel like the child has been taken away forever.