While the world is not actually becoming smaller, it is becoming increasingly easy to connect with people in all corners of the globe. This connectivity is also sending a considerable number of foreign nationals to Little Rock, which inevitably leads to binational relationships. Though there are many stories of Americans and non-Americans making marriage and parenting work, sometimes these relationships do fall apart. When they do, there may be the risk of the non-American parent taking the couple’s children abroad and never bringing them back.

Some countries will blatantly favor their own citizens over Americans when it comes to child custody, and some parents will take advantage of that by running off with their children, knowing their home countries will not send the children back to live with their other parent. It can be horrible, however, for the American spouse in Little Rock who may never see his or her children again.

Although this story of a mother who took her 5-year-old son to Japan and has refused to return does not concern an Arkansas family, these kinds of international child abductions have hit many families in the state before. In this story, the boy’s father realized something was wrong when his ex-wife failed to drop their son off for one of his visitation weekends. When law enforcement looked into the situation, they discovered that the mother had moved to Japan.

For decades, Japan has been one of those countries where it is more likely to grant child custody to a Japanese citizen than to an American. It has recently ratified the 1980 Hague Convention, however, which forces Japan to return children who have been abducted by one of their parents. This case may be an important test as to whether Japan will take its international commitments seriously.

Source: Japan Daily Press, “Mother of 5-year old flees to Japan to assert child custody,” Faith Aquino, Sept. 20, 2013