PROGRESS MADE IN INTERNATIONAL CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTES

With the strong presence of the U.S. military in and around Fort Worth, child custody disputes can often reach across Texas borders and sometimes even international borders. A number of international child custody disputes have involved U.S. citizens and citizens of Japan.

As the Washington Post noted recently, there has been pressure on Japan to join the international child custody treaty to “address concerns that Japanese mothers can take children away from foreign fathers without recourse.”

Japan’s parliament has finally relented and agreed to join the 1980 Hague Convention on international child abduction. The treaty has 89 signatories, with Japan being the last of the Group of Seven to join (also known as G7, the group includes the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan).

The convention ensures that child custody disputes are settled by the courts of the country where the abducted child lived before the abduction. It also seeks to protect the rights of access to the children by both parents.

Many cases have been documented — often involving U.S. service members — of a U.S. citizen being denied access to his children after his former wife has fled to her native Japan.

Japan has long resisted signing the treaty, arguing that it was protecting Japanese women from abusive foreign spouses.

You might recall a 2009 case in which an American was arrested in Japan after his former wife accused him of abducting their two kids on their way to school.

He argued that she was the one who abducted the children and fled to Japan after a U.S. court had granted him full custody.

The man was eventually released by Japanese authorities and allowed to return to Tennessee after he agreed to leave his children in Japan.

Hopefully, this man and others will now be able to resolve their custodycases in U.S. courts.