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Global custody battle is finally over: American father prevails

For an American citizen living in Colorado, Dennis Burns commands a singular -- even exceptional -- knowledge of the Argentine court system.

In fact, he has been personally involved over the past several years with successive rungs of the country's appellate judiciary, culminating in a ruling by the Supreme Court of Argentina on Valentine's Day of this year.

That decision -- like all the others -- was in Burns' favor and hopefully marks an ending to his long child custody slog necessitated by his ex-wife's abduction of his two daughters from Colorado to Argentina following a divorce proceeding in 2010.

Burns also prevailed in the custody dispute featuring at that time, with a Colorado judge granting him status as primary residential parent. Following the court's ruling, the girls' mother summarily left the country with the couple's children, who have remained in Buenos Aires since their illegal departure.

That is expected to change soon, in the wake of the recent Argentine court ruling, which exhausts the mother's appeal options. The next step in the process -- expected to be the last -- is an order from the United States Department of State ordering the girls' return. After that is issued and acted upon, Burns will get the welcome news concerning the upcoming date on which custody will be transferred to him.

The long ordeal occurred despite Argentina's signing of the multilateral and lengthily worded Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 1991. Notwithstanding Argentine's treaty signatory status, the case had to work its way through a series of appeals in that country.

The United States House of Representatives recently passed a bill that outlines a number of sanctions that can be taken against a Hague signatory that does not readily comply with treaty requirements. That legislation is currently in the U.S. Senate.

The problem highlighted by the Burns case is significant. It is estimated that more than 1,000 children were internationally abducted by a parent last year.

Source: CNN, "U.S. dad wins huge custody fight," Ana Cabrera and Elizabeth Stuart, March 31, 2014

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