Smith to hold hearing on international child abduction

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) will host a hearing Tuesday to listen to “left behind parents” –parents whose spouses have taken their children overseas.

Smith is the chairman of the human rights subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and has been an advocate for many parents whose children were abducted and taken out of the United States.

Three New Jersey residents, including two whose children were abducted and taken overseas, are scheduled witnesses.

Among them is David Goldman, whose wife took the couple’s son Sean and fled to Brazil, where he lived for five years.  Smith was instrumental in helping Goldman get his son back to the U.S.

Also scheduled to testify is Michael Elias, an Iraq war veteran whose children Jade, 5, and Michael, 3, who were abducted by Elias’ wife to Japan in December 2008 from their home in Rutherford.

Elias is battling to have his son and daughter returned to the United States.

Japan is particularly troublesome for parents trying to get their children back because the country is not a signatory of the Hague Convention, which governs protection of children and dictates that abducted children should be returned to their “habitual residence” and live with the parent in the country where the child originally lived.

Also scheduled to testify is Patricia Apy, a Red Bank attorney and expert on complex family litigation. She served as a legal advisor to the United States delegation to the Hague in November 1995 and returned as a delegate in October 1996 to the Hague Conference on Private International Law for negotiation of the Protection of Minors Treaty.

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Smith to hold hearing on international child abduction