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.

 

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Visit our website here: www.abpworld.com

profile pic.jpg

ABP World Group Risk Management

Contact us here: Mail

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

1-800-847-2315 US Toll free Number
0-808-189-0066 UK Toll Free Number
800-11-618        Norway Toll Free Number

Worldwide International Number: +31-208112223

Worldwide 24/7 Emergency Number: +34 633 374 629

Kidnapping and Terror in The Middle East and North Africa: Foreign Office raises Egypt terror threat


November 3, 2012

Source: The Guardian

Egypt terror threat raised from medium to high after series of deadly militant attacks across north Sinai.

The Foreign Office has raised its terrorism warning for visitors to Egypt from medium to high, particularly urging Britons against travel to the Sinai region, after a recent spate of militant attacks.

The change comes on the same day that a report revealed that police in Egypt had foiled a plot by al-Qaida-linked militants to attack tourists in the popular Red Sea coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The Mirror said the attack, involving firearms and rocket-propelled grenades, had been planned for Christmas.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said she could not comment on any link, adding that changes to travel advice were based on “a number of sources”.

While Sharm el-Sheikh is on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula, it and other nearby resorts, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab, are excluded from the Foreign Office advice against travel to the region.

The Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that on 2 November we amended our travel advice for Egypt. Our advice makes clear that there is a high threat from terrorism in Egypt.”

Its website says: “Although security is tight throughout the country, especially in resort areas, there remains a high risk of attacks, which could be indiscriminate, including in public places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers such as hotels and restaurants.”

The advice warns against all travel to north Sinai, where there have been attacks on security forces near the border with Gaza and Egypt, including one which killed 16 soldiers.

The advice says that even in south Sinai security has deteriorated this year, with a number of hijacks and kidnaps away from resort areas.

Egypt has been trying to rebuild its tourism industry after last year’s widespread unrest ended the long rule of Hosni Murbarak as president.

Last month the antiquities minister, Muhammad Ibrahim, reopened the restored pyramid of Chefren and six tombs at Giza, using the occasion to stress the country’s safety for tourists.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

U.S Phone Number: (646) 502-7443

UK Phone Number: 020 3239 0013

Norway Phone Number: +47 45504271

Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +370 610 44 447

Hundreds of children involved in bitter custody battles are being abducted and taken abroad


Source: Daily mail

Hundreds of children involved in bitter custody battles are being abducted and taken abroad, a report revealed yesterday.

Immigration and the rising number of families where at least one parent has links to another country are behind a fast-rising number of international disputes.

In 2007 there were 27 children caught up in such cases but this is expected to rise to 240 this year.

65 per cent of children born in London in 2010 have one foreign parent. It is when these couples split that messy custody battles, across different countries can take place

The leap comes despite the introduction by Tony Blair of child passports. Labour said that making every child have its own travel document would stop parents taking children abroad in defiance of court orders.

The figures emerged in a report by Lord Justice Thorpe, chief of the Office of the Head of International Family Justice. The body was set up in 2005 to try to ensure that courts in Britain and abroad work together when one parent flees with a child either from or to Britain.

The Appeal judge said: ‘Sixty-five per cent of children born in London in 2010 had a least one foreign parent. These figures illustrate the potential for significant future growth in international family litigation.’

The report is by Lord Justice Thorpe, who heads up the Office of International Family JusticeThe report is by Lord Justice Thorpe, who heads up the Office of International Family Justice

He added: ‘The tendency of dangerous parents to bolt when social services are exercising legitimate protective powers is all too common.’

In Europe most cases involve children taken to or from Germany and Poland, the report said. It cited one case in which two Polish children were taken from their home and brought to England by their father and uncle.

Within four days of their arrival they were taken into police protection having been found in a makeshift shelter near live train tracks.

The report said communications between English and Polish social workers had broken down, and ‘it was proving difficult to establish who had jurisdiction in the matter, whether the children should be returned to Poland and under what conditions’.

It added: ‘We are seeing a rising number of these types of cases, mostly involving Eastern European countries.’

The report said Lord Justice Thorpe’s organisation tries to act as a ‘help desk for judges and lawyers at home and abroad who have seen their cases stalled and delayed because two countries’ legal systems are involved and when international conventions guaranteeing children’s rights are being flouted by overseas courts’.

Italy and Poland have no judge that British authorities can talk to. The report also complained of difficulties dealing with courts in India, Egypt and Mexico. However it praised swift communications with judges in Germany, Australia, Nigeria and the U.S.

Yesterday’s figures show the main effect of child passports has been to bring in big fees for the Treasury. A child passport costs £49.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

U.S Phone Number: (646) 502-7443

UK Phone Number: 020 3239 0013 –

Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +47 45504271

Father searching for abducted daughter


Source: Phillyburbs

The day before Thanksgiving Max Troitsky got a call from his mom asking if he knew that his estranged wife and toddler daughter were visiting Russia.

He didn’t, but should have. Anna Troitsky was not supposed to leave the U.S. with their only child without his permission under their court-ordered custody agreement.

Nearly two months later, the Bensalem man is going public with what had been a private and bitter custody dispute in an effort to convince his wife to bring their daughter home or convince Russian authorities to intervene.

His attorney believes the situation could be Russia’s first test under the Hague Abduction Convention, which dictates civil aspects of International Child Abduction. In October Russia joined the Convention as a partner country, meaning it will honor civil verdicts issued by foreign courts, such as custody orders.

The U.S. State Department has seen a sharp increase in the number of international parental child abductions.

The federal agency had 1,135 reports of international child abductions in fiscal year 2009, and most of the alleged abductions were in Hague Convention partner countries, according to the most recent U.S. Department of State statistics. In 2006, there were 642 international abduction cases.

That same year, 436 children abducted or wrongly retained in foreign countries were returned to the United States, most of the children were returned from countries that are Hague Convention partners with the U.S.

The Troitsky’s custody saga started not long after the couple, both Russia natives, filed for divorce in 2010 after five years of marriage citing irreconcilable differences, according to court papers. At the time, Julie was 7 months old.

After the couple separated, Troitsky moved to Bensalem and Anna, Julie and mother-in-law Elena Demyanyuk continued to live in the family’s Upper Southampton home.

As the divorce and custody cases proceeded through the courts, Anna filed a petition seeking court permission to relocate to either Moscow, Russia, or Denver, Colorado, where her brother lives.

Troitsky says Anna, who came to the U.S. shortly before they married, often fought his efforts to get more visitations and overnight stays with their daughter.

“What parent doesn’t want to spend time with your child,” he said. “It was painful to me, painful to my parents, who rarely see their grandchild.”

In mid-November, though, a Bucks County judge issued custody order granting the couple shared legal custody of Julie. Anna had primary physical custody and Troitsky partial physical custody including weekends, overnight and weekday dinners. The judge also denied Anna’s request to relocate to either Russia or Denver, according to court papers.

Troitsky claims Anna only started talking about wanting to return to Russia after the divorce was filed, but he never anticipated his wife would violate the custody order.

“I certainly had no idea they were contemplating this,” he said.

The Courier Times was unsuccessful in reaching Montgomery County attorney Matthew F. Fox who is listed in court records as representing Anna Troitsky in her divorce and custody cases.

Four days after the final custody order was issued, though, Anna, Elena and Julie secretly left the U.S., Troitsky said.

Newtown Township attorney Jeff Leibmann, who represents Troitsky, believes Anna was able to leave the U.S. with Julie, who did not have a U.S. passport because she added her name to her Russian passport. Russia allows its citizens to add the names of children to the passports of parents.

Two days after arriving in Moscow, Elena told Troitsky’s mom in a phone call the three were in Moscow for a few days visiting Anna’s sick father.

Elena allegedly claimed that when Anna and Julie tried to return to the U.S. they were turned away at the airport because of a passport issue with Julie. She said Troitsky had to send a consent letter showing he authorized her to leave the U.S. with Julie, as required by their custody agreement.

The next day, when Troitsky reached Anna on the phone, she assured him she planned to return with Julie, but she also wanted a guarantee that she wouldn’t face criminal charges for taking their daughter out of the country.

Troitsky says he agreed not to pursue legal action. He made Anna an appointment at the U.S. embassy in Russia to start the process to get Julie a passport but she didn’t show up, Troitsky said.

Two days later, on Nov. 26, Troitsky said, Anna told him that she decided she wanted to stay longer in Russia. During that conversation, Troitsky spent a few minutes with Julie on Skype. It was the last time he saw or spoke to her, he says.

Within days, Troitsky says his suspicions that Anna had no plans to return were confirmed.

After he visited the Upper Southampton home, he discovered most of Anna and Julie’s clothes and personal belongings including family photos were gone. All the joint legal documents, including the deed to the house and title were gone, as were the car keys. He learned she quit her job after arriving in Moscow.

“It was clear she had no intention of ever coming back,” he said.

Troitsky and Anna had their last phone conversation three days before an emergency custody hearing was scheduled in Bucks County Court, he said. She told him she didn’t know when she’d return to the U.S.

At that hearing, a Bucks County judge ordered Anna to return to the U.S. with Julie within seven days, otherwise full physical and legal custody would be transferred to Troitsky.

But as far as he knows the three remain in Russia, most likely Moscow.

The U.S. embassy in Russia has been providing updates to Troitsky, but there hasn’t been much to report recently. The embassy has not had much success reaching Anna and Elena and even if they do, they can only encourage her to return, Leibmann said.

The embassy also has reached out to the Russian authorities for help finding Julie, but they are not under any obligation to help find her until Russia establishes a Central Authority to oversee compliance with the Hague Convention.

Troitsky said there is no reason his estranged wife should want to limit his access to Julie. There are no abuse allegations or evidence in any of the custody trial or related investigation. A check of county court records shows no protection from abuse orders filed against either Troitsky.

At this point, Anna may believe that she will be arrested if she returns, Troitsky said, adding he is not interested in pursuing criminal charges. The Upper Southampton police and the FBI have been notified about the situation to get Julie’s photos added to Interpol and U.S. law enforcement databases.

To get his daughter’s face, and his story, into the public eye, Troitsky and his supporters have created a Web site, called “Help Bring Julie Home.”

Troitsky says he has been on an emotional rollercoaster and he has spent many sleepless nights wondering about his child. He misses their special “father-daughter kind of moments.”

“At this point all I want to say is bring Julie back, come back with her, we’ll figure out the details of the custody,” he said. “Taking a child away from a father is not an option.”

In a few weeks Julie turns 2. The most time passes without contact with his daughter, the more Troitsky worries.

“She is probably starting to forget me,” he said.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

U.S Phone Number: (646) 502-7443

UK Phone Number: 020 3239 0013 –

Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +47 45504271

Japan: Foreign minister to take charge of locating kids in international custody rows


Source: The Mainichi Daily News

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s foreign minister will be responsible for collecting information on children abducted to the country by one of their parents in determining their whereabouts and settling cross-border custody disputes as a result of failed international marriages, according to newly compiled guidelines made available to Kyodo News on Sunday.

The guidelines compiled by the Foreign Ministry in preparation for Tokyo’s accession to an international treaty that sets procedures for the settlement of international child custody disputes state that the foreign minister can seek the help of local governments, police, schools, childcare facilities and shelters for abused people to determine the whereabouts of children in such cases.

The government is aiming to submit a bill to parliament in March to endorse the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and have it enacted during the 150-day regular parliamentary session to be convened Tuesday.

The bill will state that a central authority will be established at the Foreign Ministry to locate children wrongfully removed or retained by one parent and secure their voluntary return in response to requests made by the other parent, according to government officials.

The guidelines state that those requested by the foreign minister to provide information on abducted children will be required to do so “without any delay.”

The foreign minister could also inform parents abroad and their former spouses who have abducted children to Japan about the system of mediation by Japanese courts as a way to resolve their disputes, according to the guidelines.

The planned submission of the bill to endorse the Hague Convention based on the ministry’s guidelines is in line with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s pledge to U.S. President Barack Obama during their talks in November. Around 10 countries including the United States have been pressing Japan to join the treaty.

Japan is the only member of the Group of Eight major countries yet to join the convention after Russia acceded to it in July. At present, 87 countries are parties to the treaty, which came into effect in 1983.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

U.S Phone Number: (646) 502-7443

UK Phone Number: 020 3239 0013 –

Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +47 45504271

Custody Agreement and Visitation Violations – Warnings of Parental Kidnapping?


Source: child custody

This is the third time this month that your ex-spouse shows up late to return your child after visitation.

-Maybe it is the second time he or she asks your permission for the child to spend the night over, three hours after the child was supposed to be returned. While some of these behaviors are typical of a normal parent child relationship, they could also be signs of an imminent child abduction attempt by your ex-spouse.

The study “Issues in Resolving Cases of International Child Abduction by Parents” conducted by the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in 1998, revealed many interesting findings regarding the wrongful practice of parents kidnapping their children after losing a custody fight. Parental kidnapping – also known as parental or child abduction- is the act of removing and retaining a child in violation of a custody and visitation order.

The child can be removed from his or her habitual residence to another state or even another country. In any case, it is a serious issue. Child abductions are penalized by civil and criminal laws. In the civil context, the abductor’s parental rights will almost certainly be terminated. He or she might also face criminal charges leading to incarceration.

Nearly one half of the reported abductions in this study revealed that the kidnapping occurred during a court-ordered visitation in which the child was never returned.

Parental kidnapping is not very often the case of a sudden or spur of the moment decision. A long and methodic planning usually precedes every kidnapping. You might be able to tell that your ex-spouse is planning something devious if you see some of these signs:

Visitations are regularly prolonged by the non-custodial parent.

The non-custodial parent fails to follow up with the visitation order.

The non-custodial parent starts to show a deep and constant need to be closer to the child.

The relationship with the child becomes the center of the non-custodial parent’s life.

The non-custodial parent starts putting money away for his or her plan.

The non-custodial parent shows up at school and doctors’ offices to request copies of your child’s records.

The non-custodial parent starts studying a foreign language, or travels to another state or country, in which he or she had family or used to live years ago.

You start to notice that your child is withdrawing from you.

The study conducted by the OJJDP showed that younger children were the preferred victims of abductor parents, perhaps because they can offer less resistance. Another interesting finding of this study was that in the cases in which the child was recovered, the period of separation lasted less than one year. Thus, the sooner you report the abduction to local enforcement agencies, the more likely your child will return home promptly. After more than 5 years, recovery is highly improbable and not favored by the courts.

You can prevent your child’s abduction. You must be tough with your ex-spouse when he or she shows up regularly late to return your child. One thing you must do is to warn him or her that the violations of the visitation plan will not be tolerated, and that next time you are going to notify the courts. If you won your child’s custody over a high conflict divorce proceeding, you should always keep records of your ex-spouse’s employment, driver’s license, auto tag number, address and some of his or her friends‘ names and phone numbers, if possible. This will help authorities as they attempt to search and locate your child.

Get more information about custody agreements and find how how to create your perfect child visitation schedule.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

U.S Phone Number: (646) 502-7443

UK Phone Number: 020 3239 0013 –

Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +47 45504271

Parental Child Abduction is Child Abuse


by Nancy Faulkner, Ph.D 

Introduction
Risk Factors
Impact of Parental Child Abduction

What has been reported about abducted children?
Conclusion from Clawar & Rivlin


Introduction
“Because of the harmful effects on children, parental kidnapping has been characterized as a form of child abuse” reports Patricia Hoff, Legal Director for the Parental Abduction Training and Dissemination Project, American Bar Association on Children and the Law. Hoff explains: 

“Abducted children suffer emotionally and sometimes physically at the hands of abductor-parents. Many children are told the other parent is dead or no longer loves them. Uprooted from family and friends, abducted children often are given new names by their abductor-parents and instructed not to reveal their real names or where they lived before.” (Hoff, 1997)

As an early leader in the relatively new field of parental child abduction issues, Dr. Dorothy Huntington wrote an article published in 1982, Parental Kidnapping: A New Form of Child Abuse. Huntington contends that from the point of view of the child, “child stealing is child abuse.” According to Huntington, “in child stealing the children are used as both objects and weapons in the struggle between the parents which leads to the brutalization of the children psychologically, specifically destroying their sense of trust in the world around them.” Because of the events surrounding parental child abduction, Huntington emphasizes that “we must reconceptualize child stealing as child abuse of the most flagrant sort” (Huntington, 1982, p. 7).

There is an unfortunate and evident paucity of literature on parental child abduction. Just during the past two decades, Huntington (1982), Greif and Hegar (1993), and others have begun addressing concerns for children kidnapped by their parent abductors. With growing concerns for abducted children, some experts have coined terms like “Parental Alienation” to describe the potential negative impact on child victims. Regardless of the specific terms designed to illustrate the effects of parental child abduction, there is general consensus that the children are the resultant casualties.

Risk Factors
Post-divorce parental child stealing has been on the increase since the mid-1970s, paralleling the rising divorce rate and the escalating litigation over child custody (Huntington, 1986). According to Hoff (1997), “The term ‘parental kidnapping’ encompasses the taking, retention or concealment of a child by a parent, other family member, or their agent, in derogation of the custody rights, including visitation rights, of another parent or family member.” 

The abductor parent may move from one state to another, beginning a new round of investigation into the abuse with each move, impeding intervention by child protective services (Jones, Lund & Sullivan, 1996). Or, the abductor may flee to another country, completely shutting down any hopes of involvement by child protective services in the country of origin. The most pervasive scenario is that the abducting parent goes into hiding, or moves beyond the jurisdiction of governing law.

“These kidnappings are very cleverly plotted and planned and often involve the assistance of family members. The target parent has no forwarding address or telephone numbers.” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 115)

Huntington and others believe that inherent in the act of kidnapping and concealment are negative consequences for the child victims. It is Huntington’s contention that one of the most concerning factors is that the parent has fled and “is out of reach of law and child protection agencies.” To escape discovery the abductor parent is hiding out, — “so who knows what is happening with child!” (Huntington, 1982).

The abducted child is without the safeguards normally provided by child law. This leaves the child completely vulnerable to the dictates of the abductor parent, who, as evidenced in the following research by Johnson and Girdner, may not have the child’s best interests in mind, or may be functioning with severe impediments.

A study entitled Prevention of Parent or Family Abduction through Early Identification of Risk Factors was conducted by Dr. Janet Johnston (Judith Wallerstein Center for the Family in Transition) and Dr. Linda Girdner (ABA Center on Children and the Law). The researchers detailed six risk parent profiles for abduction:

1. Have threatened to abduct or abducted previously;
2. Are suspicious and distrustful due to a belief abuse has occurred;
3. Are paranoid-delusional;
4. Are sociopathic;
5. Have strong ties to another country; and
6. Feel disenfranchised from the legal system.

These findings by Johnston and Girdner pose a bleak prognosis for children held at the hands of such inept parents.

According to Rand, an abducting parent views the child’s needs as secondary to the parental agenda which is to provoke, agitate, control, attack or psychologically torture the other parent. “It should come as no surprise, then, that post-divorce parental abduction is considered a serious form of child abuse” (Rand, 1997).

It is generally accepted that children are emotionally impacted by divorce. Children of troubled abductor parents bear an even greater burden. “The needs of the troubled parent override the developmental needs of the child, with the result that the child becomes psychologically depleted and their own emotional and social progress is crippled” (Rand, 1997). Since the problem of parental child abduction is known to occur in divided parents rather than in united and intact families, the inordinate emotional burdens compound abduction trauma. Rand reports that although Wallerstein is familiar with Parental Alienation Syndrome, Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) prefer the term “overburdened child” to describe this problem.

In custody disputes and abductions, the extended support systems of the parents can become part of the dispute scenario, — leading to a type of “tribal warfare” (Johnston & Campbell, 1988). Believing primarily one side of the abduction story, — family, friends, and professionals may lose their objectivity. As a result, protective concerns expressed by the abandoned parent may be viewed as undue criticism, interference, and histrionics. Thus, the abandoned parent may be ineffectual in relieving the trauma imposed on an innocent child by the parental abduction.

Generally the abductor does not even speak of the abandoned parent and waits patiently for time to erase probing questions, like “When can we see mom (dad) again?”. “These children become hostages … it remains beyond their comprehension that a parent who really cares and loves them cannot discover their whereabouts” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 115).

Impact of Parental Child Abduction
Children who have been psychologically violated and maltreated through the act of abduction, are more likely to exhibit a variety of psychological and social handicaps. These handicaps make them vulnerable to detrimental outside influences (Rand, 1997). Huntington (1982) lists some of the deleterious effects of parental child abduction on the child victim: 

1. Depression;
2. Loss of community;
3. Loss of stability, security, and trust;
4. Excessive fearfulness, even of ordinary occurrences;
5. Loneliness;
6. Anger;
7. Helplessness;
8. Disruption in identity formation; and
9. Fear of abandonment.

Many of these untoward effects can be subsumed under the problems relevant to Reactive Attachment Disorder, the diagnostic categories in the following section, and the sections on fear, of abandonment, learned helplessness, and guilt, that follow.

Reactive Attachment Disorder. 

Attachment is the deep and enduring connection established between a child and caregiver in the first few years of life. It profoundly influences every component of the human condition, — mind, body, emotions, relationships, and values. Children lacking secure attachments with caregivers often become angry, oppositional, antisocial, and may grow up to be parents who are incapable of establishing this crucial foundation with their own children (Levy & Orlans, 1999).

Children who lack permanence in their lives often develop a “one-day-at-a-time” perspective of life, which effects appropriate development of the cognitive-behavioral chain — thoughts, feelings, actions, choices, and outcomes. “They think, ‘I’ve been moved so many times, I’ll just be moved again. So why should I care?'” (ACE, 1999).

Stringer (1999) and other experts on attachment disorder concur that the highest risk occurs during the first few years of life. This disorder is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as Reactive Attachment Disorder. According to Stringer, common causes of attachment problems are:

1. Sudden or traumatic separation from primary caretaker (through death, illness hospitalization of caretaker, or removal of child);
2. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse;
3. Neglect (of physical or emotional needs);
4. Frequent moves and/or placements;
5. Inconsistent or inadequate care at home or in day care (care must include holding, talking, nurturing, as well as meeting basic physical needs); and
6. Chronic depression of primary caretaker.

It is evident that these causality factors would place at high risk children who are subjected to similar conditions in the circumstances of parental kidnapping.

Attachment is the reciprocal process of emotional connection. This fundamental and necessary developmental process influences a child’s physical, cognitive, and psychological development. It becomes the basis for development of basic trust or mistrust, and shapes how the child will relate to the world, how the child will learn, and how the child will form relationships throughout life. “If this process is disrupted, the child may not develop the secure base necessary to support all future healthy development” (Stringer, 1999).

Stringer (1999), Van Bloem (1999), The Attachment Center (ACE, 1999), and criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV, 1994) identify a significant and troubling list of behaviors associated with problematic attachment:

1. Unable to engage in satisfying reciprocal relationships;
2. Superficially engaging, charming (not genuine);
3. Lack of eye contact;
4. Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers;
5. Lack of ability to give and receive affection on parents’ terms (not cuddly);
6. Inappropriately demanding and clingy;
7. Poor peer relationships;
8. Low self esteem;
9. Affectionate with strangers or attempts to leave with strangers;
10. Refuses, resists, or is uncomfortable with affection on parental terms;
11. Incessant chatter or nonsense questions;
12. Hyperactive, over-active, or attention deficit;
13. Poor, underdeveloped, or no conscience;
14. Hoarding, gorging, eating abnormalities, or hiding food;
15. Intense control battles;
16. Significant learning problems or lags;
17. Fire setting, fire play, or fascination with fire;
18. Daily lying or lying in the face of the obvious;
19. Fascination with weapons, blood, or gore;
20. Destructive to self or others; and
21. Cruelty to animals, siblings, or others.

This unsettling list of disturbances and other constellations of behaviors exhibited by abducted children comprises criteria from various childhood disorder categories of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that might lead one to rule out the following diagnoses:

1. Reactive Attachment Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood;
2. Separation Anxiety Disorder;
3. Overanxious Disorder of Childhood;
4. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder;
5. Conduct Disorder;
6. Disruptive Behavior Disorder;
7. Oppositional Defiant Disorder;
8. Eating Disorders;
9. Learning Disorder NOS;
10. Regression and Elimination Disorders: Encopresis and Enuresis; and
11. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

As a relatively new diagnosis to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), also known as Attachment Disorder (AD), is often misunderstood, and relatively unknown (ACE, 1999). Although the official DSM-IV diagnosis may be overlooked by some professionals, the phenomenon of attachment disorder was observed 50 years ago by Rene Spitz in the well known monkey studies. Spitz reported that infant monkeys may actually die if they are not played with, talked to, held, stroked, and tended. Some species of young monkeys die when abandoned. Even a brief separation of infant monkeys from their mothers is seen two years later, causing the infants to be more timid, clingy, and relate poorly to others.

Humans are social animals. If abandoned as an infant or young child, we may first protest by screaming, then quietly withdraw; finally, we become detached and apathetic. Abandoned, we may joylessly play some with others, but there is no emotional involvement (Tucker-Ladd, 1960).

The DSM-IV (1994) defines Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts, beginning before age five. According to Van Bloem (1999), inexperienced professionals often misdiagnose Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Depression, Autism, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Other experts in RAD estimate that this disorder has been misdiagnosed as Bi-Polar Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder in 40 to 70 percent of the cases (ACE, 1999).

Bloem (1999) suggests that Reactive Attachment Disorder is often accompanied by other diagnosis listed above, but that Attachment Disorder most often needs to be the primary diagnosis and the focus of early intervention. Some professionals may mildly disagree with Bloem’s preferred diagnostic perspective; however, most would agree that the resultant trauma to a child, — who in a moment was stolen away from his or her entire world of familiarity, — is emotionally, developmentally, and psychologically devastating.

Van Bloem (1999) reports that for a child “it is not possible to develop true self-esteem and find peace without resolving differences and emotional pain due to stressed or damaged emotional ties to parents and family.” According to Van Bloem, attachment helps the child to:

1. Attain full intellectual potential;
2. Sort out perceptions;
3. Think logically;
4. Develop a conscience;
5. Become self-reliant;
6. Cope with stress and frustration;
7. Handle fear and worry;
8. Develop future relationships; and
9. Reduce jealousy (Van Bloem, 1999).

The words “attachment” and “bonding” are used interchangeably. These bonding impaired individuals typically fail to develop a conscience and do not learn how to trust. With Attachment Disorder, individuals have difficulty forming intimate lasting relationships (ACE, 1999). Children with attachment disturbance often project an image of self-sufficiency and charm, while masking inner feelings of insecurity and self hate. Unfortunately, such children do not respond well to traditional parenting or therapy, since both rely on the child’s ability to form relationships (Stringer, 1999).

Adult survivors of abuse may experience long term or chronic lifetime symptoms resulting from childhood trauma. For example, a person who has been physically abused might suffer from depression or anxiety. A victim of childhood sexual abuse might exhibit symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress, or other disorders as evidenced in the DSM-IV criteria of adult mental health disorders, such as:

1. Agoraphobia
2. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
3. Dissociative Identity Disorder
4. Dysthymic Disorder
5. Substance Abuse or Dependency
6. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
7. Major Depressive Disorder
8. Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder
9. Borderline Personality Disorder

All too often, children suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder go untreated and become adults without conscience (Antisocial Personality Disorder) and without concern for anyone but themselves. “Parental dreams are lost, and they grow up uncaring and without social conscience” (ACE, 1999).

Learned Helplessness. 

The concept of learned helplessness is based on the highly respected work of Seligman in 1975, when he observed this helpless condition among animals that were unable to alter their environment. Seligman subjected dogs to random shocks at variable intervals that were completely unrelated to their volitional behaviors. Nothing the dogs could do would protect them from being shocked. Under this experimental treatment, the dogs became passive and refused to leave their cages, even though the cage doors were eventually left open as the shock treatments continued.

“The key to the learned helplessness model is punishment that is totally unrelated to the victim’s behavior, that is, the victim does not have to do anything wrong to be punished” (Lalli, 1997). As a consequence, the victim places him or herself under a virtual house arrest without informed judgment that includes facts of the situation. In the situation of parental abduction, the child victim often does not know why he or she has been abducted, has no control over the situation, and even though there may be very strong feelings of anger, frustration and confusion, — the totality of helplessness may result in a yielding to the circumstances. This yielding and superficial appearance of resolution to the circumstance may be the result of complete devastation, lack of control, and total helplessness, — rather than acceptance.

Fear and Phobias. 

Most phobias are groundless and excessive, such as fears of crowds, small spaces, addressing large groups, and heights. These fears of harmless situations may be associated with fantasies of horrible consequences, like the fear of public speaking. Thus, frightening and irrational thoughts of what might happen become paired with the real situation, which in turn produces a fear reaction. For example, at night a child has fantasies of demons lurking under the bed and in the closet. The stronger the fantasies, the worse the fear when the lights are turned off. Soon, the fears will occur prior to bedtime, from anticipation of being in the dark.

“Likewise, most of us have at least a mild fear of the dark. Relatively few people have been attacked in the dark, no one by ghosts or monsters. Yet, at age 3 or 4 (as soon as our imagination develops enough) we begin fantasizing scary creatures lurking in the dark. Our own fantasies create our fear of the dark.” (Tucker-Ladd, 1960)

Children who are abducted have been stripped of almost everything familiar – toys, personal possessions, playmates, relatives, teachers, the neighborhood, playgrounds, favorite shopping and eating places, — daily routine — and a parent. Suddenly snatched from all that is familiar and deposited without adequate preparation into a completely new environment, — fear of the unknown, future events, emotional safety, and physical safety can run rampant and become irrational. The real threat becomes even more exaggerated and capacities to deal with the threat seem completely inadequate. “This is horrible, out of my control, and I can’t deal with it.” Overwhelmed with the stress of new stimuli and unable to make sense of the situation may lead the child to excessive anxiety and fears, which in turn may develop into chronic anxiety, stress reactions, depression, paranoia and/or other complications discussed in the following sections.

Stress and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. 

One of the leaders in theories of anxiety, Hans Selye spent a life-time studying stress and postulated that almost any change is a stressor, since there is a resultant demand to deal with a new situation. If normal daily stressors are increased to unusual and traumatic events, like child abduction, the short and long term impact may significantly impair development and functioning, — even into adulthood.

There are three stages in General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). In the alarm stage, physiological changes occur, — the heart beats faster, respiration increases and becomes more labored, senses become at least temporarily more alert, perspiration occurs, — all preparing the body to flee or attack. The body responds with panic, a reaction to the fight or flight dilemma. Under continued stress, the second stage begins, — resistance. The body becomes weary and attempts to adjust and adapt to the stress. Despite efforts to adapt, the autonomic system is still working overtime.

If the stress is extended (days, weeks, and months), resistance is further depleted and exhaustion occurs. Energy to continue stress adaptation is depleted. The body gives up, with some resultant damage potentially occurring, — particularly to the heart, kidneys, and stomach. Commonly, psychosomatic disorders occur. These somatic disorders are psychologically mediated physical difficulties, like lethargy, pain, hypertension, headaches, abdominal and gastric distress, and sleep disorders. Feelings of hopelessness and a state of confusion generally accompany the physical symptoms and decision-making deteriorates under intense or prolonged stress.

Extensive replicated research findings have demonstrated these psychosomatic and physiologically damaging consequences may also occur as a result of extended stress from circumstances of childhood trauma. The potential for harmful effects of divorce on children has been widely substantiated. Stress has been documented to alter the brain, cardiovascular systems, immune systems, and hormonal system. For example, it has been discovered that female adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a smaller hippocampus than non-abused women. Stress symptoms that are evident as an adult may be due to occurrences from many years prior, e.g., the long term effects of divorce, such as a fear of intimacy, may occur much later in life, — 10 or 15 years later.

In children, extended stress may result in regression of behaviors, like age inappropriate thumbsucking, excessive clingyness, unexplained crying, bedwetting, and temper tantrums.

Prolonged and unresolved stress may also manifest in displacement, the redirection of impulses (often anger) from the real threat to an innocent and safer person. Often, the redirection is because the threat is too dangerous to confront. This may be the case in an abducted child who redirects his or her anger from the abductor to another person, possibly the abandoned parent for not rescuing and restoring life to the way it had been. Another form of displacement is internal. Instead of displacing hostility to another person, it is turned inward, against oneself. This is not uncommon in depression and suicide.

Extended stress and frustration to resolve the conflict, in an effort to relieve the anxiety, may result in reaction formation, — denial and reversal of feelings. Love becomes hate, or hate becomes love. For example, with a problem between a parent and child, the child may express the anger through exaggeration of affection. In this situation, the child may superficially appear to be closely bonded with the parent who is contributing to the stress; if asked, the child will attest to a strong and loving parent-child relationship.

Yet another stress reaction is identification, — the process of attempting to bond with the person responsible for the stressors and becoming like the abuser to diminish the conflictual anxiety. As an example, some sexual assault victims have been known to identify strongly with offenders, even to the point of developing intimate relationships with incarcerated abusers. In these situations, the victim may emulate and become more and more like the abuser. Identification with and emulation of the offender is particularly true in cases of child sexual assault victims who become adult offenders. In parental child abductions, some children have been known to identify with the abducting parent, to the point of completely rejecting and blaming the abandoned parent, despite evidence absent blame.

Stress also generally interferes with performance, resulting in inhibited learning, poor decision-making, and resulting in restricted development. Intense and prolonged stress, especially in childhood, may create an overreaction to stress, — even years later. Intense reactions to stress and resultant failures become a self perpetuating cycle, creating more stress and more failure. Continued failure breeds the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, which circles back to learned helplessness and giving up.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is more intense than the normal anxiety generally experienced day to day. It’s chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even though time has passed, the circumstance has changed, and there seems to be nothing evident that will continue to provoke anxiety. Having this disorder means anticipating disaster and experiencing excessive concerns about health, money, family, or work. The problems generalize to other situations in life, become self-sustaining, and the original stressors are then difficult to identify.

People suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder cannot seem to control or manage their concerns, even though they may realize their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They seem unable to relax, often have trouble falling or staying asleep, with worries that are accompanied by physical symptoms, like twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating, or hot flashes. There may be feelings of being lightheaded, out of breath, nauseated or an urgency to urinate; or, there may be an almost constant feeling of having a lump in the throat. There may be a heightened startle response, lethargy, or difficulty concentrating. If severe, manifestations of Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be very debilitating, making it difficult to carry out even the most ordinary daily activities (DSM-IV, 1994).

Guilt. 

It is difficult for some to understand the guilt felt by a victim, particularly when the victim is a child. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse continue to remind us that they felt guilt — guilt that they may have in some way brought on the abuse, guilt for feeling some sensate pleasure, guilt for destruction of the family constellation when the abuse was discovered, and guilt for legal consequences to the offender.

Literature on divorce is deplete with references to children feeling that they had somehow brought about difficulties between their parents and were responsible for the culminating division of the family. The guilt of abducted children is not dissimilar.

“These children are extremely guilty when they return and are very fearful of the reaction of the other parent. They do not know who to believe, the are bewildered and very fearful. Many children have a sense that the stealing was their fault and that it could have been avoided. They feel to blame for both the stealing and for the divorce. Many of the older children feel very guilty about not having tried to contact the parent victim. These children feel it is not possible to have a relationship with both parents, and they are town between them. It is not uncommon to see total confusion when they are returned, particularly with a sense of being returned to a stranger.” (Huntington, 1982, p. 8)

Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. 

The diagnoses of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are commonly applied by professionals to victims of abuse situations, such as sexual abuse and child abduction, when the presenting symptoms and applicable conditions apply. According to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1994), a person suffering from Acute Stress Disorder has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:

1. The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others;
2. The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Either while experiencing or after experiencing the distressing event, the individual has three (or more) of the following dissociative symptoms:

1. A subjective sense of numbing, detachment, or absence of emotional responsiveness;
2. A reduction in awareness of his or her surroundings (e.g., “being in a daze”);
3. Derealization;
4. Depersonalization;
5. Dissociative amnesia (i.e., inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma).

Like many reactive effects and symptoms discussed in the sections above, this diagnostic category also includes marked symptoms of anxiety or increased arousal (e.g., difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, motor restlessness). A victim of abuse may meet the criteria for this diagnosis when the disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning; or, when the disturbance impairs the individual’s ability to pursue some necessary task, such as obtaining necessary assistance or mobilizing personal resources by telling family members about the traumatic experience.

Parental Alienation and the Overburdened Child. 

“Physical kidnapping situations leave children extremely susceptible to indoctrination against a target parent. Often the operating strategy is to frighten the child into believing that the only way to exist is to escape some ambiguous harm that is to be inflicted upon the parent, child or both of them by the target parent” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 115).

In Children Held Hostage: Dealing With Programmed and Brainwashed Children, Clawar and Rivlin detail signs of abduction victim “maladjustment that go beyond the impact of separation and divorce” (p. 129). The authors delineate these parental child abduction consequences as “specifically related to the effects of brainwashing and programming.” Clawar and Rivlin list 25 resultant manifestations, including anger, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, development of fears and phobias, depression, sleep disorders, and eating disorders.

“Brainwashing” and “programming” are terms used more and more frequently by experts of parental child abduction. These term may initially offend or alienate the reader who is not familiar with Parental Alienation and abduction dynamics. “Brainwashing” and “programming” — or changing a child’s belief systems, — may be intentional, or, it may be the unintentional process of a parent imposing their belief systems on the child through an extended period of inadvertent repetition.

According to Garbarino et al. (1986), psychological maltreatment can be viewed as a pattern of adult behavior which is psychologically destructive to the child, sabotaging the child’s appropriate normal development of self and social competence. To assist with a framework for understanding brainwashing and parental alienation concepts, five types of psychological maltreatment identified by Garbarino et al. were adapted by Rand (1997) to apply to the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS):

1. Rejecting – The child’s legitimate need for a relationship with both parents is rejected. The child has reason to fear rejection and abandonment by the alienating parent if positive feelings are expressed about the other parent and the people and activities associated with that parent.
2. Terrorizing – The child is bullied or verbally assaulted into being terrified of the target parent. The child is psychologically brutalized into fearing contact with the target parent and retribution by the alienating parent for any positive feelings the child might have for the other parent. Psychological abuse of this type may be accompanied by physical abuse.
3. Ignoring – The parent is emotionally unavailable to the child, leading to feelings of neglect and abandonment. Divorced parents may selectively withhold love and attention from the child, a subtler form of rejecting which shapes the child’s behavior.
4. Isolating – The parent isolates the child from normal opportunities for social relations. In PAS, the child is prevented from participating in normal social interactions with the target parent and relatives and friends on that side of the family. In severe PAS, social isolation of the child sometimes extends beyond the target parent to any social contacts which might foster autonomy and independence.
5. Corrupting – The child is missocialized and reinforced by the alienating parent for lying, manipulation, aggression toward others or behavior which is self destructive. In PAS with false allegations of abuse, the child is also corrupted by repeated involvement in discussions of deviant sexuality regarding the target parent or other family and friends associated with that parent. In some cases of severe PAS, the alienating parent trains the child to be an agent of aggression against the target parent, with the child actively participating in deceits and manipulations for the purpose of harassing and persecuting the target parent.
Separation Anxiety and Fear of Abandonment. 

Separation Anxiety and fear of abandonment is noteworthy enough that it deserves mention separate from fear and learned helplessness. While manifestations of this problem may also meet the criteria for Overanxious Disorder of Childhood, in this instance features are more specific to having been removed from and seemingly abandoned by a parent. As mentioned above, the child may have no way of knowing what attempts the abandoned parent may be making for rescue, may believe to have been deserted by that parent, and may have been convinced by the abducting parent that the abandoned parent is deceased or no longer cares about the child.

According to the DSM-IV (1994), Separation Anxiety is manifested by developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by three (or more) of the following:

1. Recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated;
2. Persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm befalling, major attachment figures;
3. Persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a major attachment figure (e.g., getting lost or being kidnapped);
4. Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation;
5. Persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant adults in other settings;
6. Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a near a major attachment figure or to sleep away from home;
7. Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation;
8. Repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated.

The duration of the disturbance is at least 4 weeks. The onset is before age 18 years. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, academic (occupational), or other important areas of functioning (DSM-IV, 1994).

Even children who have not suffered the trauma of abduction may experience Separation Anxiety and fear of abandonment. The death of a parent, family member, or friend’s parent, as well as extended absences of one parent and other factors normally expected in life may contribute to separation anxiety. That being the case, one can only imagine the degree of Separation Anxiety experienced by a child who believes to have been abandoned by a parent as a consequence of parental abduction circumstances.

Grief. 

Siegelman (1983), an expert on grief, contends that change is upsetting because we are leaving a part of ourselves behind. Any change involves loss of the known and relinquishing of a reality that has contributed to understanding and consistency. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a well respected authority on grief, suggests that the second most intense life stress, second to death, is divorce or loss of a love relationship. “Love relationship” in this sense applies to all familial and close relationships, e.g., husband-wife, parent-child, siblings, etc.

Not only does an abducted child experience the physical distancing and loss of a parent, the child may also be lead to believe the parent is deceased. Parent abductors are frequently known to invent stories about the abandoned parent to silence the frightened child’s questioning. With the death of a parent, generally comes loss of attachment, history, and roots. According to Ross, a sudden, unexpected loss is usually harder to accept than an anticipated loss for which we have had time to prepare, as is the case for a kidnapped child.

Loss and grief experts also agree that the loss of a person on whom we are dependent is difficult to handle, especially if that dependency left us without a life of our own and incompetent to care for ourselves — like that of an abducted child kidnapped from a parent on whom he or she was dependent. Also, the assistance from personal support systems — family and friends — is an important factor in recovering from a loss. Support for such losses are likely to be especially weak when one lives away from family or has few friends, such as the grief-stricken child who was removed from their own support and reality. An abducted child has lost most, if not all support systems.

So, added to the abducted child’s long laundry list of challenges, problems, stressors, and confusions, — is grief. Grief for the absent parent, for a life that no longer exists, for friends and loved ones, and for the certainty and comfort of life as it was.

What has been reported about abducted children? 

According to Greif (1999) in his personal lecture notes on “The Impact of Parental Abduction on Children,” the following have been experienced by “children on the run,” whether they remain within their country of origin or are taken across international borders:

1. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse (the range being from 6% with Finkelhor, to higher with others);
2. Neglect in terms of care, feeding, and psychological nurturing;
3. Specific training in how to be secretive in relation to hiding a sense of self, hiding accomplishments, distrusting authorities, etc.;
4. Being lied to about the searching parent, including being told the searching parent has abandoned the child, doesn’t love the child, or the searching parent is dead;
5. Being moved constantly and denied contact for any significant time with any one other than the abductor – this may include being cut-off from contact with siblings, teachers, friends, grandparents, and other relatives;
6. In addition, and on a more complex level, an abducted child is exposed to a dynamic situation where the child may take on an inappropriate, more adult-like role. In one scenario, the child may become the protector or caretaker of the abductor, if the abductor appears in need of emotional reassurance. In another scenario, the child over-identifies with the abductor in an “us against them” mentality where distrust of authority is the norm. One possible result of either dynamic is that the located child remains with the abductor!

Confirming the discussions above about the impact of child abduction, Greif adds that according to the literature, upon recovery the child may experience:

1. Concerns about safety and reabduction;
2. Guilt and shame;
3. Confusion about his or her identity if there has been a name change;
4. Loyalty conflicts between the searching parent and the abductor with whom the child may have identified;
5. Specific problems like depression, anxiety, anomie, bedwetting, thumb-sucking; and
6. Psychological regression, withdrawal, PTSD-like symptoms, and extreme fright.
Conclusion
“As adults, many victims of bitter custody battles who had been permanently removed from a target parent, whisked away to a new town and given a new identity, still long to be reunited with the lost parent. The loss cannot be undone. Childhood cannot be recaptured. Gone forever is that sense of history, intimacy, lost input of values and morals, self-awareness through knowing one’s beginnings, love, contact with extended family, and much more. Virtually no child possesses the ability to protect him- or herself against such an undignified and total loss” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 105).

Published by: ABP World Group Ltd. Child Recovery Services

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

International Child Abduction – A Guide to the Basic Law


By:Tre Critelli

As the world continues to get smaller and international travel more common, areas of the law once thought to be of primarily local jurisdiction are now turning out to have international complications. Nowhere is this more evident than in the area of family law.

Marriages between citizens of differing countries can be extremely beneficial and worthwhile, but when they break down the fight over child custody and visitation can quickly become quite complex. Simply serving a legal notice of a lawsuit on a party residing in a different country can be difficult and at times expensive. Often it requires familiarity with the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, something few attorneys have any experience with. Further complications develop when one spouse decides to take matters into their own hands and simply disappears with the child, returning to their homeland.

In order to provide a remedy for such “abductions,” the international community came up with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This Convention aims to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State (i.e. country) of their habitual residence. As of this date, some 55 countries are signatories to the Convention. Some of these countries, however, are more than reluctant to comply with the terms of the Convention despite the fact that they have signed it.

Utilization of the Convention is fairly straightforward. Each country that has signed the Convention has a Central Authority to which an aggrieved parent may apply for assistance. An aggrieved parent is one whose child has been taken. That Central Authority will contact the Central Authority of the country to which the child has been taken. An attempt will then be made to locate the child and obtain a voluntary return. In the event that the parent refuses to return the child, a lawsuit is brought on behalf of the aggrieved parent to compel the return of the child.

As an example, if a child was taken from her residence in the state of Iowa and brought to London, England by her mother, the child’s father would contact the U.S. Central Authority, the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues. They would assist the father in completing a Petition for Return of Child which would be filed with the Central Authority of England and Wales, the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit. The authorities in England would attempt to get the mother to return to Iowa with the child. If they were unsuccessful, then the father would bring a lawsuit against the mother in the English court system. The same process would be used if the child was resident in London, England and was wrongfully brought to the State of Iowa by her father: the mother would contact the Central Authority in London which would in turn contact the Central Authority in the United States. If unsuccessful, she would file a lawsuit in the US court where the child was located.

Once a lawsuit is filed, in order to win a case of wrongful removal or retention under the Hague Convention, the aggrieved parent must show that:

(1) the child was “habitually resident” in the country before being removed;

(2) the child’s removal was in breach of the “rights of custody” of “a person, an institution or any other body;” and

(3) that those rights “were actually exercised at the time of removal or would have been so exercised in the absence of his removal.” See Hague Convention, Art. 3.

As one would expect, there has been a significant amount of jurisprudence (legal theory) develop as it concerns the above terms. Courts have concluded that the term “habitually resident” refers to a child’s customary residence prior to his or her removal but focuses not upon a child’s domicile or legal residence but rather where the child physically lived for an amount of time sufficient for acclimatization and which has a degree of settled purpose from the child’s perspective. In other words, where the child likely considered its home.

“Rights of custody,”” meanwhile, include rights relating to the care of the person of the child and, in particular, the right to determine the child’s place of residence. These rights may arise by operation of law or by reason of a judicial or administrative decision, or by reason of an agreement having legal effect under the law of that State.

After the aggrieved parent has shown the court that the child was wrongfully abducted, the burden shifts to the opposing parent to show by clear and convincing evidence why the child should not be returned. Under the Convention, it is an affirmative defense if:

(1) the person seeking return of the child consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention;

(2) the proceeding was commenced more than one year after the removal of the child;

(3) the children have become well-settled in their new environment; and

(4) there is a grave risk that the return of the children would expose them to physical or psychological harm.

Court decisions on this matter are quite clear that acquiescence under the Convention requires either an act or statement with the requisite formality, such as testimony in a judicial proceeding; a convincing written enunciation of rights; or a consistent attitude of acquiescence over a significant period of time. Acquiescence has been held to be a question of subjective intent. Many lawsuits in international child abduction matters focus upon whether or not one of the parents agreed or consented to the removal of the child.

Parents should be aware of the “one year” defense. Commencement of proceedings, as used in Article 12 of the Convention, means the filing of a civil petition for relief in any court which has jurisdiction in the place where the child is located at the time the petition is filed. Once the location of the child is known, the clock starts to run. However, Article 12 goes on to state that “even where the proceedings have been commenced after the expiration of the period of one year…, [the court] shall also order return of the child, unless it is demonstrated that the child is now settled it its new environment.” Hague Convention, Article 12. As for this “well settled” exception, it should be noted that the court retains the discretion to order the children returned even if an exception applies. Nor is a court obligated to take into account the child’s wishes.

Finally, Article 13(b) of the Hague Convention allows a court to deny return of a child to the country of habitual residence if “there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.” Generally speaking, such a risk arises in two situations: (1) imminent danger such as war, famine, or disease; or (2) when there is likely to be serious abuse or neglect and the court in the country of habitual residence, for whatever reason, may be incapable or unwilling to give the child adequate protection. As a parent, you will be expected to provide compelling evidence that the child will in all likelihood be in danger if returned.

As should be no surprise, international child abduction matters are extremely complex, both in legal substance and procedure. In the unfortunate event that your child has been abducted, you should contact an attorney experienced in the area of international child abduction immediately. Time is of the essence, and a quick response can often be the difference between a voluntary return of the child and a long, expensive court battle in a foreign country.

For additional information concerning International Child Abduction, please see the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues: http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html

For assistance in locating qualified lawyers, please see http://www.critellilaw.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tre_Critelli

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Morocco – Norway International Child Abduction Inter-Governmental Battle


There are reports from Norway of an international re-abduction case involving the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, the Norwegian Embassy in Morocco and Special Forces officers of the Norwegian Navy. The case has led to an international crisis between Morocco and Norway.

Morocco is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri has asked that diplomats at the Norwegian embassy in Rabat be questioned and prosecuted, in connection with their alleged role in the Skah child custody case.

– Norway has broken diplomatic protocol, ethical guidelines and damaged the friendship between our two countries, the Moroccan Foreign Minister said at a press briefing Wednesday. He went on to say that Morocco was far from satisfied with Norway’s handling of the case, in which a Norwegian woman smuggled her two children out of Morocco.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre maintains that neither the embassy nor his department were involved in the flight, and that he therefore can see no reason for punishing anyone. 

___________

A heated dispute has arisen in Norwegian media, following reports that two special forces officers assisted a Norwegian woman in bringing her two children back to Norway, following a custody dispute with her Moroccan former husband. The two children reportedly escaped from their father’s apartment and sought refuge at the Norwegian Embassy in Rabat last July.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry say they regarded it as a “crisis situation” and allowed the children into the embassy. Three days later an embassy official drove the children to an agreed address where the children were turned over to a person representing the mother. The children and their mother were then smuggled out of Morocco on a small sailing boat.

Defence Minister Grete Faremo confirms that two officers from the Norwegian Navy’s special forces were involved in sailing the boat when the mother and children were brought out, but that the two were on vacation at the time. However, Faremo says it is unacceptable for Defence personnel to participate in “such an operation”, even on their time off. The opposition in Parliament (Storting) have callled for a full investigation into the case.

The children’s mother had for several years sought help from the embassy, and claims that Norwegian officials earlier had not met her appeals to help her ensure enforcement of a Norwegian court order which had granted her custody of the children. There are also reports that embassy personnel and Norway’s ambassador to Morocco had been threatened by the children’s father.

Posted by Jeremy Morley
ABP World Group Ltd. on Twitter:http://twitter.com/#!/Abducted


Israel: Al Qaeda Eyeing Balkans for Bases


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Says Balkans “Next Destination” for Jihad Network

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups are trying to set up bases in the Balkans.

Lieberman said he shared his assessment and intelligence information with Macedonia’s prime minister during a meeting in Jerusalem Tuesday.

In a statement, Lieberman said that current information shows the Balkan region is “the next destination” for the global jihad network to set up operations.

He cited a money trail from Muslim charities to the Balkans as evidence without elaborating.

Lieberman said the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group has infiltrated South America, and that al Qaeda is well established in Africa.

He urged the Macedonian leader not to allow militants to take root in the Balkans.

Published by: ABP World Group Ltd.

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com