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Abduction Bill headed to Senate could be approved as early as this week

17932472_S.jpgThe story making international headlines is about a bill headed for the Senate, named for David Goldman and his son, Sean Goldman that if passed, would help families whose children have been kidnapped to foreign countries.

Three years of negotiations have finally brought the "Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act" to the U.S. Senate to be approved, possibly as early as this week, according to U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith who with Goldman , met at the Asbury Park Press for an editorial board meeting.

The bill could be taken up as a unanimous consent, said Smith, R-N.N., that would expedite the legislation's way to the desk of President Barack Obama.

It is not known whether or not Obama would sign the bill, however, he was supportive of Goldman's mission when he was a senator and also soon intervened after becoming president.

Sean Goldman, was returned to his father, David Goldman, on Christmas Eve four years ago after being taken by his mother, Goldman's wife, Bruna Bianchi, from New Jersey to Brazil on what Goldman thought was to be a two-week trip to visit family. Bianchi remarried and then died in childbirth which set off the high-profile international fight for Sean's return.

Sean was age four at the time of his abduction. Now at age 13, he is one of nearly 600 children the State Department reports who have been returned to the United States under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil aspects of International Child Abduction, now signed by more than 80 countries.

Most often, children who do come home, do so because the parents have reached an agreement, not because of judicial orders from foreign courts, said Goldman.

This legislation could become landmark as it would set up a series of sanctions against countries that persistently fail to follow the Hague Abduction Conventions, a 1980 international treaty that bars parents from fleeing to other countries until custody is decided.

Sanctions range all the way from the president making a private appeal to the suspending of economic aide. Sanctions are key to the legislation which would rev up the Hague treaty by putting political pressure on those countries that harbor parents. Also, with the parent's permission, the law would require the U.S. Department of State to notify federal lawmakers, who represent those parents of the abduction who are left-behind to be able to put pressure on their diplomatic counterparts.

"If you don't have a penalty phase, enforcing a global human rights standard becomes meaningless," Smith said. "Countries do not sharpen their response and become responsive unless they know there is a potential penalty phase."

According to Goldman, cases like this, where the children have been living in the United States before one parent takes them abroad, are usually wrongfully characterized as international custody cases instead of abduction cases. Likewise, the country that harbors the parent abductor often treats the case as a straight custodial case in which the laws of the foreign country are not the same as those of the United States.

In addition, this legislation would help reduce the financial damage that families often incur along with the emotional anguish the separation can inflict by speeding up the return of the child to the United States. Goldman, who incurred an upwards of $700, 000 in debt for legal bills and airfare in both countries, has established the Bring Sean Home Foundation to help other families. "The quicker the remedy, the less the costs," said Goldman.

Now the goal of Sean's father is to give Sean a life as normal as possible. "His job is to be a kid, to keep his room clean, to get As and Bs and play basketball," Goldman said."

Still, according to Goldman, Sean hasn't fully grasped what's been happening with the legislation that bears his name.

At Stange Law Firm, PC we are constantly on the legal forefront of what's happening in the Hague Abduction Conventions and the international community. This abduction bill named for Sean and David Goldman is a great step toward preventing possible abductions from happening and providing sanctions that protect children if abductions do happen. Once children are taken abroad, they are treated as a straight custodial case of the foreign country which does not apply the same laws of the United States.

If you are facing a divorce with child custody issues, you may contact our main office at 636-940-5900 to set up a free and confidential half-hour consultation .

Source: Abduction Bill Could be Approved by Senate This Week, Susanne Cervenka, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, USA Today

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