New law helps State Department with international custody cases

As some of our more frequent readers know, child custody issues are not just domestic affairs. They can actually cross international lines as well, which can turn problematic, especially if the other country does not recognize our laws.

We have seen this through a number of cases over the past few decades. And while some international child custody disputes have been resolved with the help of the Hague Convention — a multinational treaty that requires all participants to recognize the child custody laws of other participating countries — this hasn’t been the case for some disputes where one country has not signed the convention and is otherwise ignoring another country’s jurisdiction.

In the past, cases that fell outside of the reach of the Hague Convention often turned into contentious disputes that pit one nation’s government against another. Many times, these disputes would last months or even years, sometimes never coming to a resolution. But now, thanks to the efforts of some legislators in other states, new legislation has been passed that will give the State Department more power when it comes international child custody disputes and cases of child abduction.

Called the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2014, this new piece of legislation was signed by the president last month and gives the State Department the authority to use “increasingly forceful measures” against any country that ignores requests to return an American child who has been taken unlawfully out of the United States.

Although this piece of legislation bolsters the Hague Convention, it will also help in cases where a child has been taken to a country that has not signed the treaty. And while it may not reduce the amount of time spent in litigation, it will help left-behind-parents assert their parental rights and hopefully regain custody of their children as well.

Sources:, “N.J. mom step closer to reunion after Obama signs law about international child abduction,” Cristina Rojas, Aug. 9, 2014, “Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2014,” Accessed Sept. 4, 2014