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Kidnapped boy still in Guatemala despite custody violation

If you're worried about child custody arrangements and are concerned your child may be taken, you're not alone. Many parents have this fear, and with the right support and evidence, your attorney can make a case to the court to restrict visitation or custody rights.

When parents don't act with enough evidence or before an incident occurs, parental kidnapping could be a possibility. A Sept. 27 news release out of Wilmington, North Carolina, reported that a father has been searching for his child following his disappearance. In 2012, he arrived at his ex-wife's home and expected to have visitation time with his 3-year-old son. When he arrived, his ex-wife and his son were gone. It was then that he suspected that his ex-wife had taken his son to Guatemala.

He and his ex had a joint custodial agreement. It had been upheld up to this point. Now, even though she committed a crime and violated the court's custody order, he still struggles to be reunited with his son.

When child abductions like this take place, the United States has to work with the foreign country's government and law enforcement agencies. The Hague Child Abduction Convention is in place to help smooth out the law between the two countries, and because of it, one out of every two abducted children are returned, according to 2014 findings by Congress.

According to their custody agreement, neither party was allowed to leave the state of North Carolina with the boy. His ex-wife filed a motion to take her son to visit her family in Guatemala. While the boy's father objected, the court still granted the woman permission to take their son out of the country as long as she returned by July 31, 2012. That backfired, and the woman left the United States in secret. She gave no information to the boy's father about their whereabouts. Now she faces a felony parental kidnapping charge and the boy's father has been awarded sole custody.

In August 2016, four years after the search started, the boy's father was notified that his son had been found living with his mother in Guatemala. She was issued legal documents under The Hague Treaty in Guatemala. The problem is that Guatemala has a history of non-compliance with the Hague Treaty, so the boys still has not been recovered.

Source: PR Newswire, "Father Fights to Have His Kidnapped Child Returned From Guatemala, Reports the Missing Children's Defense Fund, Inc.," Sep. 27, 2016

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