When a parent who is a foreign national removes the children from the U.S. in violation of a court order, it can be a legal nightmare for the parent left behind. A Colorado man knows this firsthand; he was only recently able to bring his two daughters home four and a half years after they were illegally abducted by their mother.
The couple were going through divorce proceedings in Colorado in 2010 when the wife, a native of Argentina, asked the court for permission to relocate to Buenos Aires with the girls, who were then ages four and two. The judge denied the request and awarded physical custody to the father. Three weeks later the mother defied the order, put the girls on a plane and left the country with them.
Argentina is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Under that convention children who have been illegally abducted are supposed to be returned home quickly. That didn't happen in this case. The mother filed repeated appeals in the Argentine courts, delaying the girls' return to the U.S. The Supreme Court of Argentina finally rejected her last appeal in late 2014. In March of this year, the father flew to Argentina to collect the girls. After additional delays in getting the final order signed, he was finally able to bring the girls home to Colorado in April. The girls are now eight and six years old, and the younger one cannot speak English fluently.
Child custody disputes can be acrimonious and difficult to resolve. Cases involving international abduction are among the most challenging. Yet as this case shows, justice is still possible even if it takes years to achieve.
Source: CNN, "Dad brings daughters home after years-long legal battle," Elizabeth Stuart & Ana Cabrera, May 6, 2015