Colorado dad Dennis Burns has a singular family law problem in which very few parents can truly appreciate or empathize.

That is the kidnapping of his children by their mother — his ex-wife — and their return to her native Argentina following the couple’s divorce in 2009, despite Burns having child custody of his two daughters as the designated primary residential parent.

Burns’ former spouse initially sought a court order that would allow her to lawfully relocate abroad with the daughters following her post-divorce claim that Burns was abusive. A judge denied her request, though, finding her assertions unfounded. After that ruling, she abducted the two girls, and they have remained in Argentina ever since.

Burns’ story, while uncommon, is not without precedent, with the U.S. State Department noting that it is appraised of about 1,200 similar cases each year.

As complex as custody disputes can be domestically, they can be far more convoluted and resistant to resolution when one of the parents has defied a judicial order and relocated abroad with the children.

Burns has been making persistent efforts to get his children back on American soil and in Colorado since their abduction, backed with a court order that demands their return. Notwithstanding that edict, though, things have stalled, even with the intervention of the State Department with Argentine officials. An appellate court in that country has sided with Burns and ordered the children returned, but Burns’ ex-spouse has challenged its decision, with the case now slated to be heard by the Argentine Supreme Court.

Burns presses on, stating that he is in “uncharted waters.” The State Department has informed him that it could take several years to ultimately prevail in the matter and see his daughters returned.

Source: Huffington Post, “Dennis Burns waits for Argentinian Supreme Court to rule on return of abducted daughters,” Nov. 12, 2013