Today's headlines feature the case of a Colorado father whose young daughters were taken to Argentina by their mother after their divorce judgment granted him primary custody.
Today's headlines feature the case of a Colorado father whose young daughters were taken to Argentina by their mother after their divorce judgment granted him primary custody. It has taken him over 3 years to get his daughters back, and they are still not in his custody. Even though Argentina became a signatory country in the Hague Convention in 1991, the children's mother was able to stall the girls' return by using the lengthy appeals process through the Argentine courts.
What does this terrible situation mean for you? As made apparent in the above case and in countless other matters, having a designation of custody through a U.S. or Massachusetts Probate and Family Court does not prevent a non-custodial parent from abducting the children and fleeing the country. While it may be difficult to get children through security and on a plane without the notarized consent of both legal custodians when traveling out of Logan Airport, other airports are not as tough. Once out of the United States, the battle to force the non-custodial parent to return the children may be impossible.
If you suspect that your child's other parent may result to such extreme measures, it is imperative that you act proactively:
- During a divorce or custody matter, ask that the child's passport be held by your attorney and that both parents be granted access only with court permission.
- Ask that the Court institute a bond for the parent that is traveling with the children overseas, which can actually prevent that parent from leaving the country if the bond is set too high.
- If the children do not have passports, ask the Court to issue an order that neither parent may request a passport for the children.
- Depending on the age of your children, teach them how to use a telephone and have them memorize your phone number.
- Ask that the children's school alert you if the children are picked up early by their other parent.
Most importantly, if you suspect that an abduction is likely, take immediate action and seek assistance from the court.
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