I CARE FOUNDATION: Department of State Seeks Lawyers In Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin To Join The "Hague Convention Attorney Network" As Child Abduction Surges

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The International Child Abduction Research & Enlightenment Foundation (I CARE Foundation) has launched a recruitment campaign urging attorneys located in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan to join the United States Department of State's Hague Convention Attorney Network ("Attorney Network") - and help protect innocent children victimized or targeted for international parental child abduction. Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan have had significant increases in the number of international parental child abduction (IPCA) cases over the past few years. IPCA in the United States targets tens of thousands of families each year in the United States and abroad. Unfortunately, due to the surge of IPCA cases connected to Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, there are not enough trained lawyers familiar with international child abduction prevention or reunification who understand the magnitude of the growing epidemic that targets defenseless children.

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Peter Thomas Senese' CHASING THE CYCLONE

I feel privileged to have been a referral attorney for the implementing agency for many years of my private practice ... Patricia Lee (Attorney Mentor For The Department Of State's "Hague Convention Attorney Network"

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The I CARE Foundation is urging lawyers located in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan interested in assisting parents of children who have been internationally parentally abducted or who may be targets of international parental abduction to participate in the Department of State's "Hague Convention Attorney Network".

The Office of Children's Issues in the U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the "Convention"). The International Child Abduction Remedies Act ("ICARA"), establishes procedures for litigating Convention cases in the U.S. The U.S. Central Authority has numerous functions including facilitating the institution of judicial proceedings in the U.S. "with a view to obtaining the return of the child and, in a proper case, to make arrangements for organizing or securing the effective exercise of rights of access." In April of 2008, the U.S.Central Authority assumed the responsibility for all incoming cases, and overseeing a network of volunteer attorneys.

The "Attorney Network" provides critical assistance. Lawyers that join the "Attorney Network" are asked to consider taking Hague Convention return and access cases on a pro bono or reduced fee basis. There is never an obligation to take a case, and legal fees and expenses may be recoverable under the Convention's Article 26 and the implementing statute (42.U.S.C 11607), and under state law when state law remedies are pursued (e.g., UCCJEA). In addition, lawyers with and without Hague experience are welcome to join the Attorney Network, as the Attorney Network offers a host of information and mentor programs. In addition to incoming cases of abduction, attorneys can also represent parents in abduction prevention cases and outgoing abduction cases.

Presently, there are over 1,640 'reported' cases of International Parental Child Abduction originating from the United States according to the last published report issued from the Department of State to Congress. This number has nearly tripled since 2006 according to a recent report issued by the Government Accountability Office's ("GAO") recommendation to create a airline screening list for American citizens considered by the courts to be high-risk child abductors.

According to independent reports by non-government stakeholders including the I CARE Foundation, various population growth studies and ensuing immigration migration factors combined with other cross-cultural marriage demographics have created an atmosphere for continued growth in illegal international child abductions originating from the United States as well as an increase in illegal abductions to the United States. Experts in the area of IPCA anticipate a conservative growth rate of between 15% and 20% per year.

In addition, the number of 'unreported cases' of international parental child abduction appear to be substantial. Though there are no specific statistics associated with 'unreported' cases, it is estimated that the number of 'unreported' cases may equal or surpass the number of 'reported' cases.

Patricia M. Lee, a Florida attorney practicing in the area of parental child abduction and a member of the I CARE Foundation states, “I feel privileged to have been a referral attorney for the implementing agency for many years of my private practice. The trauma experienced by victimized children and parents when faced with a child abduction, especially in the international arena, is overwhelming, primarily due to the lack of experienced attorneys, but also, due to the great financial burden, and cultural and language barriers. When they have nowhere else to turn and are so desperate, being able to help these people has been a rewarding experience personally, as well as professionally. It is worth every hour I have spent climbing the learning curve in this little known area of the law. OCI has always been responsive and helpful in the practicalities of dealing with clients living abroad, and the network of mentor attorneys available across the U.S., nothing short of a wealth of information and assistance. My experience in taking these cases has been humbling, to say the least, as I have seen the very best of my profession, which is too often the object of jokes and derision. I would encourage any attorney to join the Attorney Network.”

Joel S. Walter, an lawyer practicing in New York, a member of the I CARE Foundation, and a member of the Attorney Network said, "As a lawyer practicing complex cases primarily in federal court for over 30 years, it is astonishing to learn of the tragedies children of abduction and their targeted parents face. In joining the Department of State's "Attorney Network", I have an opportunity to give back to our community, and make a difference in the life of a child. Participating in the network is not just good lawyering, but it is good citizenship."

Peter Thomas Senese, a member of the I CARE Foundation, author, filmmaker, child abduction prevention advocate and the author of Chasing The Cylcone, and, co-author of 'The World Turned Upside Down' commented, "The number of international parental abduction cases originating from or landing in Connecticut and New Jersey has increased substantially as international abduction as a whole has significantly risen. For parents who are unexpectedly forced to chase after their abducted child, having a lawyer familiar with the complexities of international jurisdiciton and child abduction is the difference between having a child returned home or lost forever. The initiative to recruit skilled lawyers to join the Department of State's Attorney Network is critical to the welfare of tens of thousands of at-risk children. I urge those lawyers interested in making a difference to consider joining the Department of State's Attorney Network because they can make a positive impact on the life of a child."

In addition to Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, attorneys from all states interested in participating in the Hague Convention Attorney Network are invited to participate in the program.

If you are a lawyer interested in finding out more about the Hague Convention Attorney Network, visit http://www.travel.state.gov/childabduction and click “For Attorneys & Judges,” or write to HagueConventionAttorneyNetwork(at)state(dot)gov. You may also call 202-501-4444. To learn more about international parental child abduction please visit http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction. To receive an application to join the Attorney Network, please visit http://travel.state.gov/pdf/AttorneyNetworkFlyer.pdf.

Media Contact:
I CARE Foundation
Maria Gina
mediarelations(at)stopchildabduction(dot)org
917.200.6217

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