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New Jersey representative leads international abduction reform

New Jersey residents may not be aware that at least 8,000 American children were victims of parental abduction between 2008 and 2013, according to the U.S. State Department. A U.S. representative from New Jersey has led efforts to reform U.S. practices in dealing with international custody cases. Since 2007, the Office of Children's Issues reports receiving thousands of requests for help returning a child to the United States after being internationally abducted by a parent.

The intersection of international law and child abduction complicates matters for parents as well as the governments attempting to return abducted children to their rightful guardians. Only half of all children abducted from the United States to countries that participate in an international treaty are returned home.

The 1980 Hague Conference on Private International Law brought significant recognition to the problem of international child abductions. The resulting treaty, which has since been signed by the United States and 92 other countries, is intended to address these issues. Governmental relations and diplomatic tensions may often complicate the negotiation process. There are numerous logistical issues to contend with as well, including international travel between custody hearings. Parents may also face financial hardship from frequent travel expenses during time split between the United States and another country.

Child custody disputes are often contentious, but factoring in the complexities of international child abduction can make things even more difficult for parents and authorities alike. Custodial parents who find themselves in these situations may benefit from the assistance of an experienced family law attorney who may be able to provide representation at international hearings as well as guidance on the logistics of enforcing U.S. custody agreements overseas.

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