A recent Associated Press article exploring the ever-complicated issue of international child custody cases touched off by parental abductions is shining new light on a problem that never seems to go away. As the piece notes, two of America’s most important Asian allies – India and Japan – are among the nations that parents and State Department officials alike have the most trouble dealing with. Neither country, the news agency notes, is among the 80+ signatories to an international convention designed to add some certainty to international custody cases.
According to the article, the two countries account for 300 cases involving “more than 400 children, opened by the State Department since 1994.” Here in California and elsewhere, many cases like these turn on international marriages that end in divorce, after which one parent takes the children back to his or her home country in defiance of an American court order.
With a new Congress scheduled to be sworn-in tomorrow there is a chance this issue may receive more attention. With Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey is scheduled to assume the chairmanship of a key subcommittee that examines human rights practices worldwide (the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health). Smith has long been the House’s most outspoken advocate of the rights of American parents caught in child abduction and international child custody battles. According to AP, Smith plans to introduce legislation to create an Office of International Child Abductions within the State Department.