As international child abduction plays an ever-growing role in American child custody cases, the number of countries committed to child safety and family choice appears to be growing. Japan has become the latest nation to sign the international child custody treaty that could prevent native parents from taking their children from Americans without recourse.
The country approved the treaty adoption amid concerns that primarily originated from American fathers, many of whom are service members. These men alleged that the mothers of their children were spiriting the kids away to Japan, where they were protected from requirements outlined in the 1980 Hague Convention. The approval of the treaty will provide additional protection to foreign parents.
Opponents of the measure cited evidence that Japanese women may be fleeing abusive American spouses. That argument remained one of the most potent against the treaty ratification even until recent years.
The political shortcoming was highlighted during the 2009 child custody case involving an American father and a Japanese mother. The man was arrested in Japan after he was accused of taking the pair’s two children as they walked to school. A U.S. court had awarded the man full custody of the children, but the Japanese mother took matters into her own hands by fleeing from Tennessee to her native country. American legislators turned up the heat on Japanese politicians in 2010, condemning the nation’s refusal to agree to Hague provisions.
Japanese law dictates that only one parent — generally the mother — retains custody of the children after divorce. The Hague convention will not change that legal precedent, but it will affect the way the nation honors U.S. custody decisions. The change will also only apply to new cases.
If you are facing an international custody battle, your best ally is a qualified family attorney. These professionals can help you understand your rights and responsibilities as officials attempt to enforce U.S. law through the provisions of the Hague treaty.
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com, “Japan child custody laws: Japan approves joining international child custody treaty” Malcolm Foster, May. 22, 2013