Father loses custody rights after wife abducts children to Japan

What happens when your ex-wife leaves the country with your two children? In most instances, this is a situation of international child abduction and the country to which she fled will help return the children back to the United States. But for one man, his rights as a father were not honored by Japan, the country where his wife moved to.

In fact, when this particular father followed his ex-wife to Japan to get his kids back, he was arrested and spent more than two weeks in jail overseas. The fact that she violated a U.S. court order and that she had a warrant out for her arrest was irrelevant. Because Japan is not a signatory of the Hague Convention on the Prevention of Child Abduction, there is little he can do to regain custody of his kids.

The concern goes beyond family law disputes and into international relations between the United States and Japan. In response, Japan has been feeling the pressure from other countries to sign the treaty. However Japan has not signed yet. Their biggest concern is that the Hague Convention does not take into account instances of abuse of violence in the home.

In response to that concern, the Japanese government has received recommendations to make exceptions for families where there was abuse of violence. But even so, there is still the danger of false accusations, leaving a fit father without his children and perceived as an abuser.

For fathers who already have fewer legal custodial rights, this scenario is especially frustrating. Many fathers simply want to continue seeing and interacting with their children on a regular basis. Instead, they are separated from them indefinitely with little hope of ever seeing them again.

Source: Time online, “How Did Japan Become a Haven for Child Abductions?” Lucy Birmingham, 07 March 2011

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