Colorado dad fights international legal battle to get children returned to him

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DENVER -- A Colorado man was granted custody of his children. But they were taken to Argentina more than three years ago.

Now, he's locked in a fierce international legal battle.

The faces of his daughters bring Dennis Burns both joy and heartbreak.

A Colorado court awarded him primary custody of Victoria, now 7, and Sophia, now 4. But their mother, Ana Alianelli took them from their home in Snowmass to her homeland of Argentina. That was in September 2010.

Dennis Burns became what's known as a "left-behind father."

"There's times when I want to think about them but it hurts too much to think about them," he says.

To see his daughters, Burns must travel to Buenos Aires at his own expense.

"I saw - first saw Victoria get out of the car, and she saw me, and she screamed, papa, papa! She came running across the parking lot, jumped into my arms."

The girls' mother claims Burns was abusive. They're accusations that are unfounded. She and her attorney ambushed him during a visit with his girls, serving him charges of violence against women and children, without providing specifics.

Custody experts say this is a known tactic in cases like this to create more legal barriers.

Burns' ex-wife and her attorney did not want to talk.

He now remains in legal limbo. There's no question the children were abducted. Courts in the U.S. and Argentina have confirmed that.

But the girls' mother has appealed the latest ruling in Argentina. The Supreme Court in Buenos Aires has to render a decision.

"So now I haven't been able to see my daughters again in over a month. You know, it's just cruel. It's just cruel and just not fair. It's not fair to them or my family. It's just not fair at all."

Until the Supreme Court in Argentina hears the case, all Burns can do is wait.



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