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U.S. fathers seek to reunite with their children overseas

Reaching an agreement over the custody of a child can be a difficult process, and it is even harder if the parents live a great distance apart and both still wish to see the child. Recently, a number of American fathers have been campaigning to regain custody of children taken overseas to Japan. Negotiating child custody across international borders is a challenging matter, and the fathers have sought assistance from the U.S. and Japanese governments.

The big problem facing these parents is that there are few, if any, legal grounds to assist them in Japan. One father has been separated from his daughter since she was 9 months old, and she is almost 12 now. Even though the little girl's mother died several years back, the father has no legal rights to visit his daughter because no custody agreement was in place before his child was taken overseas.

The fathers, along with numerous supporters, have made several attempts to raise awareness of their situation. They have staged marches, petitioned the Japanese Embassy and explained their plight to a U.S. government official. The parents have also sent their cases to the U.S. State Department with the hope of reuniting with their children.

Disputes over international child custody can happen to parents anywhere in the United States, including Missouri. The U.S. State Department has already received more than 80 child custody cases involving Japan since February, with another 200 expected this year. Though Japan recently became the 91st nation to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, the treaty doesn’t apply retroactively.

If you and your partner separate, it is important to resolve child custody matters quickly and fairly. A knowledgeable attorney can help you create a workable parenting plan and establish a fair agreement that is best for all parties involved.

Source: Kyodo News International, "U.S. fathers urge Japan to comply with child custody treaty," April 1, 2014

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