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Illinois father involved in international child custody dispute

An Illinois father who has been involved in an ongoing international child custody dispute is hoping to prevent other Illinois parents from having to go through the same ordeal that he has. He is gaining momentum with a petition proposing new legislation to be called "Emily's Law" in honor of his daughter, who is at the center of his child custody dispute.

The story began back in 2008, when he and the mother of his daughter separated. An Illinois family court awarded him visitation every other weekend and two days a week. However, when he arrived to pick up Emily, the girl's mother had disappeared. In time, he was able to determine that the mother had fled to Brazil, her home country.

Fast-forward three and a half years later and this father has still yet to see his little girl -- and not because he hasn't tried. In October of last year, he traveled to Brazil to see his daughter, only to be denied access by the girl's mother.

Emily is not the only American child in this situation. Officials estimate that approximately 60 U.S.-born children are currently in Brazil having been abducted there by their parents. Brazil, unfortunately, is not complying with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international agreement that requires the return of children to their home countries whenever custody orders are violated.

The father is traveling once again to Brazil in the upcoming week and this time he has high hopes that he will see Emily. But he is also not simply hoping that he has a positive outcome for himself. This father is hoping that the Illinois legislature will sign on to his proposal for a law that will prevent parental abductions from occurring in the first place, at least in Illinois.

Under the proposal, airport security would search a database holding information about possible child abductions whenever a child is traveling internationally with only one parent. He hopes that if this law is enacted, other parents involved in child custody disputes can be saved from the tragedy of the international parental abduction of their children.

Whether the law will be enacted is yet to be determined, but in the area of international child custody disputes, it could be a step in the right direction.

Source: East Valley Tribune, "San Tan Valley man hopes international fight for daughter spurs law," Mike Sakal, Aug. 4, 2011

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