Parental Kidnapping – Rise in abductions of Boston’s migrant children


October 23 , 2014

Source: bostontarget.co.uk

Law firms have reported a rise in the number of abduction cases involving Boston’s migrant children.

Parental Child Kidnapping

Both Sills and Betteridge and Ringrose Law say they have noticed an increase in the number of children being taken to another country by one parent without the other’s consent following family breakdowns.

They have also seen a number of parents deliberately take their child abroad, often under the premise of a holiday, then fail to return.

Yvonne Clarke, a solicitor and partner at Sills and Betteridge and based in Boston, said cases have increased along with Boston’s population over the last three to four years.

 Parental Kidnapping

“I don’t think before then we had any,” she said.

“Abduction is a very emotive word, but if you are taking a child without the other parent’s consent, particularly if they have parental responsibility and equal rights to you, you are abducting them.

“You are taking the child away from another parent. Anybody should think twice before doing that and should take legal advice before leaving the country.”

Both Yvonne and Lincoln-based Sills and Betteridge colleague Chrystal Theofanous have earned resolution accreditation for international child abduction cases.

It means they will deal with cases handed down by the International Child Abduction Unit at the Ministry of Justice.

“If a child has been abducted inside of the UK then any cases dealt with through the unit which are nearest to Lincoln will come through our firm and be dealt with by either Yvonne or myself,” Ms Theofanous said.

Most cases don’t become criminal investigations, as the parent can apply for their child to be returned using the Hague Convention and get help from solicitors.

However Nichola Skayman, children’s legal adviser for Ringrose Law, said the firm wanted to work with police to help prevent abductions happening in the first place.

“I am trying to organise a conference as this is happening more and more,” she said.

“If they are aware of the implications, they may be able to assist us and say don’t leave, go and get separate legal advice.

“It is really trying to get the word out. We probably get one a month where this is happening. I have never had one that is not from the migrant community. It ranges from babies to 10 and 11-year-olds.

“You are taking the child from everything they know.

“They might have been brought up in a Polish family in England where they have lived and went to an English speaking school and that is where their friends are, so it is very alien for a child.”

She added: “The main thing is that we don’t want the child out of the country. As soon as the child is gone it is harder.”

Joanne Orton, advice line co-ordinator for child abduction charity Reunite, said preventative measures could help.

“It is so cheap now to get flights into and out of the country,” she said.

“Where possible, if there is a real imminent threat of a child being taken, speak to the police and see if they can put an alert in place.

“If you know where it is, hide the child’s passport. If not, it is down to a lawyer to get in court orders in place.”

Legal help is automatic for child abduction cases in countries which are part of the Hague Convention, using civil action to help the parent who has applied for their child to be brought back.

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Sønderknust far ber om hjelp for å finne to bortførte døtre og norsk vitne


August 9 , 2014

Kilde: oddmyklebust.com

 

 

En sønderknust britisk far ber om norsk hjelp til å finne sine to døtre som ble bortført i Pattaya i juni. En nordmann er kronvitne, og vet trolig hvor jentene befinner seg.

thailandske-jenter

67 dager er gått siden de to thailandsk-britiske skolejentene Annie (11) og Aleena Day (6) ble meldt savnet i Pattaya, Thailand. I alle dager siden den gang har deres far, Robert Day, fra Kent i England fortvilt forsøkt å finne dem. Han har brukt tiden til å henge opp plakater av de savnede døtrene og spørre tilfeldige om noen kan ha sett døtrene, men så langt til ingen nytte.

Politiet har etterlyst Onwarat Suphikunphong Gamlem i forbindelse med det politiet mener er en bortføring av de to jentene. Onwarat Gamlem er jentenes biologiske mor, og hun ble skilt fra Robert Day for fire år siden. Day ble tilkjent foreldreretten i forbindelse med skilsmissen, og jentene har siden den gang bodd i England.

onwarat-gamlen

Etter skilsmissen ble Onwarat Gamlem kjæreste med en nordmann, Tor-Eivind Gamlem, fra Møre og Romsdal. De har også fått et barn sammen som nå er tre år. De bodde en stund i Norge før Onwarat flyttet tilbake til Thailand der Gamlem jevnlig besøker henne. Han har en arbeidssituasjon som gjør det mulig for ham å besøke sin thailandsk-norske familie uker av gangen.

Ring meg, Tor, sier fortvilt far til bortførte jenter

Selv om de to jentene er blitt britiske, mente faren at de ikke hadde noe vondt av å få vite mer om sitt thailandske opphav. De reiste derfor på en ferie til Pattaya, og landet i Bangkok 25. mai med tanke på å tilbringe en tre ukers ferie der. Robert avtalte med Onwarat at hun kunne tilbringe litt tid med døtrene. Han ante fred og ingen fare, selv da hun ringte ved to-tiden om ettermiddagen 2. juni for å fortelle at de ble litt forsinket til avtalen om å returnere jentene. Tiden gikk, han ble mistenksom, og brått opphørte all telefonforbindelse. Han sendte sms-er, men fikk ikke svar. Da reiste han til leiligheten hennes, og fikk sjokk. Leiligheten var fraflyttet.

Forsvinningen ble politianmeldt, men thailandsk politi har ikke greid å finne henne. Hun har kastet sim-kort, og det ikke mulig å spore henne elektronisk gjennom telefon eller bankkort.

I følge den informasjonen thailandsk politi har gitt til Robert Day, ankom Tor-Eivind Gamlem Thailand 5. juli. På immigration-kortet han fylte ut på flyet, er et hotellnavn oppført. Politiet har sjekket dette hotellet, men der har han aldri sjekket inn. Både thailandsk politi og Robert Day oppfordrer nå Tor-Eiving Gamlem på det sterkeste å melde seg. Han er ikke mistenkt for noe kriminelt, men ut fra omstendighetene tror både jentenes far og thailandsk politi at han sitter på viktig informasjon om hvor jentene befinner seg.

En sønderknust far forteller dette til denne bloggen: – Jeg håper intenst at nordmannen melder seg. Han er mitt siste håp. Det er 67 dager siden jeg mistet jentene mine. Vi har ikke snakket sammen eller sms-et siden den gang. Jeg er som dere forstår fryktelig bekymret for hvordan de har det, og jeg er helt sikre på at også de er bekymret for meg En tre ukers ferie er blitt til 11 ukers mareritt. Vær så snill og hjelp meg.

Saken har også hatt vakt betydelig interesse i britiske medier. Hvis noen har informasjon om denne saken, vær vennlig å kontakte undertegnede på denne bloggen, eventuellt epost journalistodd@gmail.com eller Robert Day på følgende epostadresse: robdayis@hotmail.com

 

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When Your Ex Emigrates With Your Children


August 4 , 2014

Source: separated dads

The modern world is getting smaller, with more and more people living and working abroad.

It’s no surprise that the number of international families is on the increase but what happens to the kids when these relationships break down and the mother wishes to return to their home country with the child? What rights does the father have?

children-parent

Your Rights

If both parents have parental responsibility for a child it is a criminal offence in the UK to emigrate with a child without the permission of the other parent or without an order of the Court. Parents have Parental Responsibility for children in the following circumstances:

  1. The Mother – always has PR
  2. The Father – if he was married to the Mother, or if he was named on the birth certificate and the child was born after 1st December 2003 or if there is a PR agreement stamped by the Court

Outcomes

There are 4 outcomes if one parent wants to take the child abroad to live permanently:-

  1. Permission refused by the Court and the Mother abandons her plans or the child moves to live with the Father
  2. The Mother and child emigrate with the Father’sagreement
  3. Lawful removal of the child by the Mother
  4. Unlawful removal of the child by the Mother

Outcome 1 is self-explanatory but let’s looks at the other 3 outcomes in more detail:

Outcome 2 – Emigrate with Father’s Agreement

Where the parents reach an agreement which permits one parent to move abroad with the child whist ensuring that they maintain a good relationship with the other parent. International travel is much cheaper and often parents agree a schedule of annual contact involving return trips to the UK in the school holidays and weekends and visits by the non-resident parent to the child’s new home. Other forms of contact can be agreed upon such as Skype, telephone, email and Face time.

 

In these circumstances it is always wise to apply to the Court to request an order in the agreed terms to prevent any problems further down the line. A court order may also be required by the immigration authorities if the proposed move is by a non-national who requires a Visa. Depending upon the Country where the child is going to be residing, it may be necessary to obtain a mirror order in the new state reflecting the terms of the English Court order. You cannot assume that Court Orders made here are enforceable abroad. If the move is to an EU country the order would be directly enforceable but unless the English court order expressly retains jurisdiction, it will pass to the new state after 3 months and in theory an application could be made in the new state to vary the agreed terms. If the new home is a signatory to the Hague Convention, the Central Authority in London can assist in enforcing a contact order abroad. If the new home is outside the EU and is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, for example Arab States and the Far East, retaining jurisdiction here or obtaining a mirror order is the best form of protection.

Outcome 3 – Lawful Removal of Child

Where parents cannot agree it is necessary for the parent wishing to remove the child to apply to the Court for permission to do so. If permission is granted, contact will also be ordered. This will then result in the lawful removal of the child. Depending on the child’s destination and whether that country would enforce the English Court order (as in EU Countries) it may be necessary to obtain a mirror order in the new home country to ensure contact is maintained. See above ” 2 .Agreement”

Outcome 4 – Unlawful Removal of Child

Where parents cannot agree and the parent wishing to leave simply takes the child without permission, this is parental child abduction. It is a criminal offence to remove a child from the UK without the permission of the other parent or order of the court (save for where the parent has a residence order and removal is for less than 28 days). If you suspect that your child has been taken abroad you will need to access specialist legal advice immediately. In some cases it is possible to stop a child leaving the country by notifying the ports and airports who will place the child’s details on a watch list. If the child has already left the UK, a lot will depend upon where they have gone and whether that country has an agreement with the UK to return wrongfully removed children. There are unfortunately circumstances where children are not returned which could result in the child losing its relationship with the other parent.

how-PAS-affects-children

If you are separated from your child’s mother and these issues arise for you it is important that you obtain specialist advice from a family lawyer with an international background which will enable you to consider the best way forward for you and for your child to ensure your relationship is maintained.

About the Author

This was a guest post written by Louise Halford, a family law Partner at Pannone LLP who specialises in child abduction.

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UK-Russia child abduction still a problem but new law may help


August 1 , 2014

Source: spearswms.com

 

 

With more and more Russians heading to the UK, it’s important to take into account the newly amended Hague Convention on international child abduction. But the UK government still fails to do enough for aggrieved parents

 

 russia_mapThe wheels of international law turn slowly. On 1 October 2011, Russia became the 86th signatory of the Hague Convention of October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, it was only in June last year that the UK recognised Russia’s accession under its own domestic legislation.

With a significant Russian presence in the UK and with an increasing trend of Russian parents placing their children in UK schools, it is important for Russians either coming to the UK or returning to Russia to understand the effect of this recent development.

Research conducted by the Foreign Office suggests that half the UK population think that when a child is abducted it is the responsibility of the government of the country where the child lived to seek and return the child. The stark reality is that little government help is provided and it is up to the parent, at a time of great emotional distress, to instruct a lawyer and pursue recourse via a private application through the court system.

Pictured above: Gentlemen about to discuss the first Hague Convention in 1899, which regulated conduct during warfare.

The convention harmonises the resources from country to country to ensure that children who have been removed from one signatory country to another can be located, apprehended and returned to their parent or guardian in their country of habitual residence, to minimise distress and harm to the child.

Without the convention and the reciprocal legal framework it provides between countries, the return of children can prove more time consuming, costly and ultimately distressing for the child.

Article 3 of the convention states that a child is abducted where:

A) The child habitually resides a country that is a signatory to the convention. The actual nationality of the child or parents is unlikely to be significant in most abduction cases.

B) The child is removed abroad or is being detained there without the permission of their legal guardian in breach of that person’s custody rights.

C) The child is under sixteen years old.

The reality is that harmonising international law is seldom straightforward and the convention is no different. One such difficulty is that the implementation of the convention from state to state can differ in significant ways. Indeed, Hague can conflict with domestic laws.

UK-geo-stub

For example, in Russia, children can be taken abroad by one parent without written permission from the other but that would be considered a crime in many signatory countries of the convention.

Thus a paradox may be created where a child could be taken from Russia to England by one parent without the consent of the other, but as Russia is now a signatory to the convention, a child who is habitually resident in England but who is taken without consent to Russia would be required to be returned by the Russian authorities to the UK.

It is uncontroversial to say that some signatories are more willing to deploy resources to a child abduction incident that others. Russia, has not fared particularly well in this regard historically.

Last year the European Court of Human Rights decreed that Russia had breached a mother’s human rights under Article 8 (which includes a right for a parent to have measures taken by national authorities to reunite them with their children from whom they have been separated) because it took the authorities three years to reunite the boy with his mother.

Conversely, the first British/Russian convention case was settled in November last year; the Russian courts ordered the return of five- and seven-year old boys to their habitual residence in England after they were taken on holiday to Russia by their Russian father, who then failed to return with them.

The complexities that can arise in child abduction cases, combined with public ignorance of the law regarding the removal of children from a country, and the increasing international demography of the UK, particularly London, makes for a combustible mix of factors.

It is stating the obvious to say that foresight is preferable to an international child abduction battle which can and probably will be emotionally distressing and possibly damaging for the child or children involved. Communication between parents, possibly with legal assistance to clarify parental rights, will be effective to prevent a situation arising where the convention needs to be invoked.

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28 children taken to Ireland from UK in parental abduction cases


30 December 2013

Source: TheJournal.ie

BRITISH GOVERNMENT FIGURES show there were 28 cases in the past year involving children who were abducted from a parent or guardian in the UK and taken to Ireland.

ireland_map

Total figures for parental child abduction and international custody cases have been revealed by authorities in Britain as they seek to raise awareness of the problem ahead of an expected spike in cases after Christmas.

They relate to cases whereby a child was taken out of the UK against the stipulation of a court order or against the will of one parent.

The number of cases involving the Foreign Office has more than doubled in the last decade, from 272 in 2003-2004 to 580 in the past year. Cases involving children taken to Ireland accounted for the fourth largest number of such incidents; Pakistan accounted for 35 cases, followed by the US (32) and Poland (29).

Contrary to the belief that fathers are most often to blame, mothers are responsible for 70 percent of the abductions, the Foreign Office said. Charities involved in child abduction said there was a spike in cases just after Christmas last year, and again in September following the summer holidays.

ireland_lrg1

Figures from the Department of Justice here show there were 83 cases of suspected abduction in in 2012 relating to attempts to bring children out of the country. The Department also dealt with 64 cases involving children entering the state.

Speaking earlier this year upon the release of the Irish figures, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said that parental-child abductions remained a “worrying problem”.

The UK Foreign Office has produced this video aimed at encouraging parents to consider the consequences of taking a child out of the country without permission…

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New FCO figures show parental child abduction cases on the rise


December 17 , 2013

Source: www.gov.uk

The number of parental child abduction and custody cases has more than doubled over the last decade *, with almost two children being abducted abroad each day, according to new figures released today by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and charity, Reunite.

baby-child-christmas-little-boy-Favim.com-248677

The FCO has launched a hard-hitting film, Caught in the middle, to highlight the issues and encourage parents to think of the consequences before doing something that could do lasting damage to the children and families involved.

In 2003/04 the FCO was involved in 272 new parental child abduction and international custody cases. In 2012/13 that figure rose to 580, the second highest figure ever recorded.

This year alone**, Reunite – a charity that provides advice and support to parents involved in parental child abduction cases – has dealt with 447 new cases involving 616 children. It reported a particular spike in cases after Christmas 2012 and again in September this year following the summer holidays.

Mark Simmonds, Minister for Consular Affairs, said:

I was very concerned to see an increase in child abduction cases. Parental child abduction has a devastating emotional impact on the child as well as the taking parent and the parent left behind. It can do lasting damage to a child’s relationship with both parents and their happiness. These are often distressing cases for everyone involved and there are no easy fixes, but our staff around the world work hard to assist those parents left behind.

We are launching this awareness campaign in the lead up to Christmas to try to prevent parents from doing something that would cause significant distress to themselves, their family and most importantly to the child. We also encourage parents to look for warning signs that their partner may be considering this. Once children are taken overseas it can be extremely difficult to secure their return to the UK. Many parents are not aware that by abducting their child, they may be committing a crime.

Alison Shalaby, Chief Executive of Reunite, said:

Parental child abduction is not faith or country specific – we see cases involving a range of countries from France and Poland to Thailand, Pakistan and Australia. The holidays can be a particularly stressful time for families, especially if the relationship between parents has broken down. However, there is help available if you think that your partner may be considering abducting your children. Last year we helped to prevent 412 cases involving 586 children which demonstrates something can be done to prevent it from happening to you.

Parental child abduction cases can take years to resolve, with significant impact on the child or children involved. There is a very real possibility that the child may never be returned. Even when cases are resolved it can take up to 10 years, with a devastating impact on the child, parents and families involved.

There is no typical ‘abducting parent’ – although abductions are more likely to take place where families have links to more than one country and, contrary to popular opinion, it is more likely to be the mother who abducts than the father (approximately 70% of abducting parents are mothers).

It is also much harder to return a child from a country that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention, an international agreement between certain countries which aims to ensure the return of a child who has been abducted by a parent. The table below illustrates the most common Hague and non-Hague countries that children are abducted to.

christmas-chronic-ill-child

As well as emotional distress, both parents may often face severe financial difficulties as they fight for custody of their child through foreign courts. Legal costs overseas and in the UK may continue to mount up for parents, who must bear responsibility for the cost of any legal action taken, even after the child is returned to this country.

The FCO is working with Mumsnet and the charity, Families Need Fathers (FNF) to answer questions parents might have about this issue via their web pages Families Need Fathers and Mumsnet.

Top 10 Hague countries children have been abducted to*** Number of cases 2012/13 Top 10 countries children have been abducted to where Hague returns aren’t available Number of cases 2012/13
USA 32 Pakistan 35
Poland 29 Thailand 17
Ireland 28 India 16
Germany 18 Japan 11
France 12 Morocco 10
Canada 11 Egypt 8
South Africa 10 United Arab Emirates 8
Spain 10 Philippines 7
Australia 9 Oman 5
Turkey 8 Afghanistan 5

Where to go for help

There are lots of free sources of advice and support to help parents through difficult periods, including if you think your child is at risk of being abducted or has already been taken. You can call the Reunite helpline on 01162 556 234. You can also call social services and speak to a specialist solicitor. Counselling and support is available through Relate and the Samaritans.

Alternatively, you can contact the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, visit our Child Abduction page for more information or read our advice leaflet.

You can also email childabduction@fco.gov.uk

Further information

For further information or to arrange media interviews please contact: 0207 478 7840

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a multi-lateral international treaty, the aim of which is the return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or wrongfully retained away from the country where he or she normally lives, so that issues of residence (which parent a child should live with), relocation (which country a child should live in) and contact (access) can be decided by the courts of that country. All cases that come under the Hague Convention are dealt with by one of the three Central Authorities in the UK (the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit covers England and Wales and there are two separate bodies for Scotland and Northern Ireland). To find out which countries are part of this Convention, visit the HccH website

Visit our Child Abduction page for further information on parental child abduction, or the Reunite website

*Taken from 2003-2013 data held by the FCO. The FCO dealt with 580 new child abduction and custody cases in 2012/13, a 113% increase on the 272 new child abduction and custody cases it dealt with in 2003/04

**Reunite figures, January 2013 – October 2013

***Based on figures provided by the 1980 Hague Central Authority for England and Wales, Scottish 1980 Hague Central Authority and the 1980 Hague Central Authority in Northern Ireland.

Also read: Christmas holiday is the high season for International parental child kidnapping

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Court-appointed visitation supervisor charged in parental abduction case


August 29, 2013

Source: The Republic.com

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine woman appointed by a court to supervise a visit between a mother and children has been charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child after the mother and kids fled the state.

teacher_child

Jennifer Dore of Benton was the court-appointed visitation supervisor for Bethmarie Retamozzo. Authorities say she allowed Retamozzo to drive away with her children on Aug. 15 from Waterville.

Police say the 37-year-old Dore didn’t disclose the information to police until over five hours after Retamozzo left. Police said she placed the children at risk.

Retamozzo is being held without bail at the Kennebec County Jail on two felony counts of criminal restraint by a parent. She and the children were found Aug. 18 in South Carolina. She is expected in court Wednesday.

 

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Ken Spooner is finally bringing his abducted children home after 5 years


August 2 , 2013

Source: findandrewthompsoneeurope

Ken Spooner is finally bringing his abducted children home after 5 years 

Ken has returned home to England with his two sons. We wish him and the boys all the best.

Ken-Spooner-UK

On 18 July 2013 the Supreme Court of Zambia advised Ken Spooner that he was allowed to take his two children Devlan and Caelan back to Milton Keynes, UK.
In 2008, 4 year old Devlan and 18 month old Caelan were taken to Zambia by their mother on a holiday from which she never returned.
Ken appealed to the High Court of England and managed to get an order to return the children home but had to travel to Zambia to execute it. The order was successfully registered and despite an appeal from the mother’s lawyers, Ken was given permission to take the children home.
When Ken reached the airport he was met by the mother and her lawyers and the children were taken again with the help of the Zambian police.
He did not give up. He has fought long and hard over the past 5 years. He has had to give up everything.
The children have been deprived of a relationship with Ken and his family. Amazingly he is not going to do the same on his return with them. He is hoping that his boys can have a relationship with both parents, a testament to his character.
Ken is an inspiration in the way that he has approached the abduction of his children. We wish him all the best in bringing his children home to England. Emergency passports are being issued and it is hoped that they will return home very soon.
Further reading at these links
 

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Plano father fights for daughter in parental kidnapping case


July 13 , 2013

Source: Star Local News

“Hermer and his parents have spent around $75,000 on an international custody battle that has left them drained both monetarily and emotionally”.

Bart Hermer

For the last two years, Plano father Bart Hermer has dedicated his life to seeing his daughter returned from overseas. Alessia was abducted by her mother and represents one of more than 200,000 family abduction cases in the United States every year.

Bart Hermer carries a pacifier with him at all times. It’s purple with flecks of glitter and has the words “Princess Alessia” scrolled across the plastic.

He keeps the soother as a small comfort of his own — a reminder that his 2-year-old daughter, Alessia, is still out there and waiting to be reunited with her father.

For now, Alessia lives in the United Kingdom with her mother, 40-year-old Simmone Cohen, who is a British citizen. Hermer and his parents have spent around $75,000 on an international custody battle that has left them drained both monetarily and emotionally.

For the last two years, Plano father Bart Hermer has dedicated his life to seeing his daughter returned from overseas. Alessia was abducted by her mother and represents one of more than 200,000 family abduction cases in the United States every year.

Every night, Hermer sleeps on a bed in the nursery to feel closer to his daughter, but an empty crib is a constant reminder that the woman who first stole his heart, also stole his most precious possession.

Blindsided

Hermer and Cohen’s relationship started out as a picture-perfect romance. He fell for her British accent and stunning looks when they met on a single’s cruise in 2007, and months later they were visiting each other’s countries. The aging couple talked about both wanting children, so within a matter of months they were engaged.

“I swear on my daughter’s life, heart and soul we never had an argument,” Hermer said, reflecting on the blissful times. “We were the envy of everybody we knew.”

The two began planning for a wedding at the Dallas Arboretum — plans that were delayed when Cohen found out she was pregnant with Alessia. When the baby was 10 months old, Cohen planned a regular trip for the three of them to visit her family in London. Hermer said he had just been laid off from his job as an advertising executive, but Cohen had income from her marketing business she ran from their Plano home.

While going through customs at the London airport, Hermer was pulled aside and questioned. A customs officer accused him of trying to enter the country with the intention to live there — information Hermer’s fiancee had told them. As much as Hermer denied the story, he was sent back to the United States alone, and Cohen and Alessia remained in England.

“I was set up,” Hermer said. “The truth was she just wanted a baby.”

Back in Texas, Cohen’s designer clothes still hang in the closet. Her laptop was left behind, and a Plano detective confirmed in writing that she wrote messages contradicting their happy engagement.

“I definitley [sic] don’t want to marry him,” Cohen wrote in one Skype message to a family member. “… he knows I am delaying things so he may have guessed,” she wrote to a friend.

“She played him like a sucker,” Hermer’s mother, Kathy, said. “She lied about everything.”

An epidemic

The Hermer’s are not alone in their daily struggle with parental kidnapping. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) estimates more than 200,000 family abduction cases occur annually in the United States.

In cases involving children taken from the United States to the United Kingdom, 92 percent of cases are unresolved for longer than a year, and 38 percent are unresolved for more than five years, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

Hermer has tried to use international child abduction laws from the Hague Convention to get Alessia back. Article 3 of the convention talks about the “rights of custody” and says the courts must use the law of the state — in this case Texas — where the child was a resident before being abducted.

Even with letters of support from Texas Senators Florence Shapiro and Jane Nelson and state Rep. Jerry Madden, most of Hermer’s evidence was not allowed in the British court.

“I was not given a fair trial,” Hermer said. “I have solid evidence from credible people … and that evidence was not allowed. A lot of these countries will not return a child because of gender bias.”

After a crushing loss with denial of appeal, Hermer is trying a different approach. He hopes Attorney General Greg Abbott will push to have Cohen extradited to Texas on felony kidnapping charges.

“If my child stays there, it sets the precedent for thousands of children in the future,” Hermer said.

Time is ticking

Two years have passed with Hermer devoting his life to studying state and federal parental kidnapping law. He now works as assistant director of the Global Missing Children Fund.

Precedence from other international kidnapping cases shows that courts consider a child acclimated to their new country once they reach 3 years old. After that point, the courts are reluctant to return the child.

“I’ve got six months,” Hermer said, desperation in his voice. “She’s my life. She’s my pride. I don’t want to catch up with her in my 70s.”

He sees her occassionally when he is allowed to enter England for scheduled court hearings, but the trips are expensive and visitation is never guaranteed.

“When they are together it’s like they’ve never been separated for a moment,” Kathy said. “They had such a tight bond.”

Hermer is praying that someone will hear Alessia’s story and know how to help. While he is openly thankful for the ongoing support from Jewish Family Services, a separate fund has been set up for donations to offset some of the court costs at www.firstgiving.com/Bring-Alessia-Home.

“I’ll never quit until she’s in that crib,” he said. “I don’t care what it takes.”

 

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Innocents Abroad: The Rise of Cross-Border Child Abduction by Parents


July 2 , 2013

Source: The Huffington Post

In recent years, the world has seemed a more connected place.

happychild

Palm-sized technology has condensed contact between continents while the flow of people across time zones has increased dramatically.

Experience of new horizons – and the different cultures, cuisines and tongues which comes from it – has made for a more cosmopolitan life.

However, official research and the daily caseload of myself and other family lawyers all too often illustrates that there can be negative consequences.

The number of international family disputes requiring the involvement of UK courts has almost quadrupled in the space of only four years, according to a report published by one of this country’s most senior judges.

The data, which was published by Lord Justice Thorpe, who acts as the Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales, showed there were only three new cases of that type handled by the office in 2007. The following year, the total had risen to 65 but by the end of last year, it had reached 253.

Lord Justice Thorpe said that the matters involved child abduction, adoption and forced marriage and were due, he claimed, to “globalisation, increasing movement of persons across borders, and the ever rising number of family units which are truly international”.

His remarks confirm something which is all too apparent to myself and my colleagues atPannone LLP, as we have remarked upon previously.

The comments are also supported by figures released not by the courts but by Government which evidenced what many believe to be at the heart of the trend which Lord Justice Thorpe is witnessing.

Child_Abductions

Last year, the Foreign Office published its own figures, illustrating that the number of parental child abductions which it had been called upon to assist in had climbed by 88 per cent in a decade.

It revealed that a specialist unit which it had set up to deal with the problem was getting four calls every day, half of which were turning into new cases.

Of course, it is not only relationships forged by individuals of different nationalities which run into difficulties. However, when these partnerships break down, there is often a natural tendency to return to family and familiar surroundings to recover from any feelings of disappointment or distress.

Where children are involved, such matters become more complicated, especially when one or other partner decides to remove them from the country in which they had been resident.

A country’s incidence of these sorts of cases mirror its ties with other states. The Foreign Office cited parental child abductions involving 84 different nations. According to Lord Justice Thorpe’s report, Poland, Pakistan and Spain were the three places which featured most frequently in the disputes which came to his attention.

Once removed, children are sometimes only returned after a complex process which can be long and drawn out. There can be serious ramifications for the families concerned, both legally and emotionally.

Taking a child out of the country without the express permission of a court or the other parent can be a criminal offence. No matter how comforting the prospect of returning to one’s family overseas might seem once a relationship has broken down the consequences need to be seriously considered.

Sadly, my workload and that of other family lawyers specialising in these cases shows no sign of letting up, regardless of the legal and personal consequences. If anything, the increasingly common nature of international partnerships makes further rises likely.

Given the prominence of Poland in figures from both Lord Justice Thorpe and the Foreign Office, it will be interesting to see whether allowing two other East European countries – Romania and Bulgaria – to live elsewhere across the continent without limitation will further fuel the number of international family units living in Britain and the terrible complications of their breaking apart.

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