LEPCA -Lawyers in Europe on Parental Child Abduction


January 21 , 2014

Source : LEPCA 

European conference 7-8-9-(10*) May 2014

The International Child Abduction Center in the Netherlands (Center IKO) is organising the first European conference for family lawyers who represent parents in international parental child abduction cases, called LEPCA.

The conference takes place on 8 & 9 May 2014 in the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands. Here you will find the program.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 00.29.39

Register now

Our partner in this project is Mediation bei internationalen Kindschaftskonflikten (MiKK) in Berlin, Germany. Associate Partner organisations are law firms in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, and Non-Governmental Organisations in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania. In addition, Center IKO has established a network of specialised law firms and NGO’s in many countries within the European Union.
The LEPCA Conference addresses on legal professionals who deal with the subject of international parental child abduction cases under the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention, the Brussels II bis Regulation and the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention.

The objective of the project is to learn from best practices, exchange ideas and create a platform of specialised parental child abduction lawyers within Europe.

About LEPCA 

 

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 

Skype: abpworld

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: +31-208112223

Abducted children not priority, fathers say – Canadian police and courts called ineffective


Source: CBC News

Two Canadian fathers whose children were allegedly abducted by their mothers and taken to European countries say authorities have done little to try to enforce court orders and bring them back.

Calum Hughes breaks down when he talks about how he misses his little girl, who he has not seen since 2009. (CBC)

“I’m holding my hands up going, ‘Can somebody please do something about this?'” said Calum Hughes, whose five-year-old daughter Livia was allegedly abducted by her mother from B.C. and taken to Italy in 2009.

“Somebody is not doing their job behind a desk,” said Gary Mezo, from Thunder Bay, Ont. His two-year-old son Gary Jr. has been in Hungary for a year. Court records confirm his mother took him there without his father’s permission.

“I believe Canada has to put its foot down — finally — and do whatever is written in law what has been ordered in court.”

There is a two-year-old Canada-wide warrant for the arrest of Hughes’s ex-wife, Sibylla Verdi, for child abduction. He hasn’t seen Livia for 2½ years.

“It’s the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of before I go to sleep at night,” said Hughes, of Kelowna, B.C.

Fathers have legal custody

Hughes is a hospital administrator and Mezo a successful businessman. Both were granted sole custody of their children by Canadian courts, but they said those orders have proven meaningless.

“A Canadian Supreme Court full custody ruling has no teeth,” said Hughes. “There’s not a lot of consequence that I see for a parent to just pick up and leave.”

Mezo alleges his ex was planning to abduct his son for more than a year.

“Before my child left, I told the police several times, please do something,” he said.

He has an affidavit and emails from a boyfriend of his child’s mother, showing she planned to leave and then claim abuse.

“He felt so bad that he couldn’t live with himself. He said that he had to do something about it. He wants me to have my child back,” said Mezo.

The Missing Children Society of Canada said while it has seen a steady increase in calls about international parental abductions, there is effectively nothing in place that could have prevented the abductions.

Child’s rights ‘at risk’

“The child’s rights are at risk here,” said private investigator Ted Davis. “A woman or man who wants to take their child [outside Canada or the U.S.] can simply jump on a plane and leave.”

Davis said his office is working on 60 cases of international abductions from Canada, dating back six years.

The latest RCMP figures show there were 237 reports of parental abduction in Canada in 2009 and 41 per cent of the children were under the age of five.

More than half the cases were resolved or withdrawn within a day. RCMP spokesperson Julie Gagnon said she didn’t know how many of the remaining children were taken to other countries.

She said when there is a warrant, as in the Hughes case, the RCMP can ask Interpol to put a “red notice” in the system, so the alleged abductor could be arrested at any border crossing.

She said, depending on the country and the case, extradition can also be initiated.

Dads desperate

However, Hughes said he heard nothing from the RCMP after a charge was laid against his ex-wife two years ago.

“They have done nothing,” said Hughes. “What message are we sending to everybody out there? If you don’t get a court order that you like, take your kid and leave the country? You will suffer no consequence? Is the Canadian justice system OK with that?”

RCMP spokesperson Dan Moskaluk insisted the investigation is still active.

“Resources involved in advancing this case since 2009 has involved RCMP investigators from the Kelowna detachment to assistance from our international policing branch liaison officer in Italy,” Moskaluk said.

CBC News sent messages to Sibylla Verdi, but received no response.

Mezo said he tried to get Thunder Bay police to pursue abduction charges in his case, but the investigating officer told him she couldn’t get approval. He believes that is partly because his wife falsely alleged he was abusive.

“It boils down to one thing — no reasonable grounds to get a charge approved,” said Thunder Bay police spokesperson Chris Adams. “These cases are very problematic. We don’t have the authority to enforce custody in another country.”

“It’s a very expensive proposition to initiate extradition on an abduction charge,” said Davis. “It’s not a priority [to police]. They don’t like getting involved in family cases when it’s not a life-threatening situation.”

Davis said under the current system, where parents can make applications for the child’s return under the Hague Convention, it takes two to three years and several thousand dollars to get children back, and it can only be done with signatory countries.

System slow, expensive

“If there’s no one stirring the pot, then no one is working the case,” he said. “The system is effective, but slow and very, very expensive.”

Both fathers made Hague applications. Italy refused to send Livia home, though, because the court believed his Italian ex-wife’s assertion that Hughes was an unfit father, allegations that were rejected by a Canadian court.

“That’s all needless details and garbage,” said Hughes. “I’ve spent over a hundred thousand dollars and how many hours in court. I’ve ended up with nothing in terms of a relationship with my daughter. ”

Mezo’s application is stalled in the Hungarian court system, which has sympathized with the Hungarian-born mother of his son.

“The Hungarian court said that ‘well there is no warrant out for her. She didn’t do anything wrong in Canada. So therefore we take it all with a grain of salt whatever the judge ordered in Canada,'” said Mezo.

His son’s mother, Boglarka Balog, sent an email to CBC News, again claiming abuse.

“The [Hungarian] court will value the behaviour of Gary that was violent so much in Hungary too, not only in Canada,” she wrote.

“Countries protect their own,” said Davis. “The stumbling block in Hague cases is when the court [overseas] is convinced there’s risk to the child [if returned].”

Call for exit controls

Hughes and Mezo said Canada should put some type of exit control in place, to try to stop parents from leaving with children they don’t have custody of.

“I was devastated when I learned [Livia and her mother] were gone because I knew what that meant,” said Hughes. “If they had been stopped, this would have all been prevented.”

“It’s happening everywhere [in the world]. But nobody is doing anything about it. Somebody has to step up and put their foot down and say enough is enough,” said Mezo.

Airlines and governments advise travellers to have a consent letter from the other parent if they want to fly with a child alone, but that system is voluntary.

“It’s smoke and mirrors — and those letters can be forged,” said Davis, who agreed exit controls are needed. “We have a file cabinet full of international cases.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed airlines can do nothing to stop a parent from leaving with a child, even when they don’t have a letter.

“Since there’s no governmental requirement, the airlines have no legal mandate to be checking these,” said spokesperson Perry Flint, who added airlines could open themselves up to lawsuits if they refuse to let a paying passenger board.

A U.S. government agency recently proposed establishing a “no fly” list – for parents who the courts have ruled are likely to abduct their children.

CBC News asked several federal departments if something like that is being considered for Canada. Transport Canada said it is not, Foreign Affairs did not reply and Public Safety said that would not be its department.

Both fathers said their children have been let down by a system that is ineffective and hasn’t made children’s rights a priority.

“I’ve tried everything by the book,” said Hughes. “This [going public] is my last hope to ever see Livia.”

“I wouldn’t have imagined in my dreams that my country would let me down or let my son down,” said Mezo. “It’s hard to go to work and pay taxes … when this country is not backing you up.”

Read: International Parental Child Abduction: The Hague convention – Proved Useless 

Read: When the Hague Convention won`t help

And: The Hague Convention is not enough to recover your child

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

Bermuda on Congressman’s hit list over child abduction treaty


July 9, 2011 – Source: The Royal Gazette

Bermuda is among the countries that need to be punished for harbouring children kidnapped from the US, according to Congressman Chris Smith.

The Republican has named and shamed the Island as one of about 20 countries failing to abide by an international child abduction treaty.

Mr Smith, who represents New Jersey, said more than 2,400 American children were wrongly being held overseas, calling it a “deeply troubling and growing problem.”

He told the US Congress that Bermuda had carried out a “serious human rights violation” by failing to quickly return abducted children who had been unlawfully removed by one parent. The international treaty states that abducted children should be returned within six weeks for custody hearings as the courts in the country where the child was living have better access to the appropriate evidence and witnesses.

In light of this, Mr Smith is pushing to pass the International Child Abduction Prevention Act bill through Congress to secure the return of abducted children and penalise non-cooperating countries by withholding US financial aid and other assets.

Mr Smith said “the return rates of American children are still devastatingly low” even though more than 80 countries had signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

In 2010, 978 children were abducted to Hague Convention signatory countries with only 350 children or 38 percent returned.

Mr Smith, chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees international human rights, said the US would not tolerate child abduction or have patience with countries “that hide abductors behind The Hague Convention.”

The report states that: “Bermuda demonstrated patterns of noncompliance in the areas of central authority performance and judicial performance.”

It questions Bermuda’s application of the Convention when the taking party is not a parent, the challenges in bringing a Convention case to court when the Central Authority is also responsible for representing the state in court for child abuse cases and some courts’ failure to prohibit consideration of the merits of custody in domestic proceedings while a Hague application is pending.

The report details a June 2010 case when the Bermudian Central Authority wrongly said that because the taking person was an aunt and not a parent, the Convention would not apply. The family court then proceeded with a custody hearing and granted the aunt “full care, control and custody” of the child despite the pending Hague application.

The report states: “In November 2010, Bermuda appointed a new Attorney General (Michael Scott) who has expressed his commitment to ensuring that Bermuda is compliant with the Convention.

“At his urging, the court in the above case scheduled a hearing on The Hague application, but the left-behind parent (LBP) withdrew the application just days before the hearing, citing a lack of legal representation and a voluntary agreement with the taking aunt.”

The emotional federal hearing debate, which took place on May 24, included speeches from the parents of children abducted from America.

Mr Smith said international abduction was “a global human rights abuse” that harms children and inflicts emotional pain and suffering on the left-behind parents and families.

He said: “International child abduction rips children from their homes and lives, taking them to a foreign land and alienating them from a left- behind parent who loves them and who they have a right to know.

“Their childhood is disrupted, in limbo, or sometimes in hiding as the taking parent seeks to avoid the law or to conjure legal cover for their immoral actions.

“Abducted children often lose their relationship with their mom or their dad, half of their identity and half of their culture.”

Attorney General Michael Scott and Youth Affairs and Families Minister Glenn Blakeney did not respond to requests for comment.

The US State Department’s 2010 Hague Convention compliance report highlights Argentina, Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey for failing to enforce return orders.

It also states that Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Honduras, Mexico, the Bahamas and Saint Kitts are among countries failing to abide by The Hague Convention, by not ensuring swift enforcement of convention orders.

He said: “The convention creates a civil framework for the quick return of children who have been abducted and for rights of access to both parents.

“Under the convention, courts are not supposed to open or reopen custody determinations, but rather decide the child’s country of habitual residence, usually where a child was living for a year before the abduction.

“Absent extenuating circumstances, the child is to be returned within six weeks to their habitual residence, for the courts there to decide on custody or to reverse any previous custody determinations.”

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Hungary accused of failing to enforce Hague Convention orders


Hungary accused of failing to enforce Hague Convention orders, writes Carol Coulter

WHEN FAMILY disputes arise, or sometimes when there is a dispute between parents and state child care authorities, it occasionally happens that a parent flees the jurisdiction with the child.

This eventuality is covered by The Hague Convention on Child Abduction, to which most countries outside the Islamic world are signatories.

The Irish authorities processed 233 cases relating to international child abduction in 2010, of which 140 were new applications.

Many were subsequently either withdrawn or settled by consent. In 25 cases the children were ordered to be returned to the state from which they had been abducted.

Usually when a child has been wrongfully removed from his or her normal place of residence by a parent and a court orders his or her return, the child is produced and the return takes place in an orderly manner. If this does not happen, the Garda have the power to arrest the parent concerned and secure the child’s return.

However, it may not happen so smoothly in all jurisdictions. An Irish father, Dr Leslie Shaw, is still seeking the return of his daughter Fiona from Hungary more than three years after she was removed from the family home in France by her mother, despite the fact that the Hungarian courts have ordered the return of the child.

He is now seeking the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and of the European Commission to have the orders seeking Fiona’s return enforced.

He is also seeking to draw international attention to what he claims is the flouting by Hungary of international law.

His lawyer, Laurent Hinkler, has written to the parliamentary members of the Council of Europe, the parent body of the ECHR, drawing their attention to the “violation of the law of the European Union, of private international law and the European Convention on Human Rights”.

Fiona was abducted in December 2007 by her mother Krisztina Orosz and her father immediately took proceedings in Pest, Hungary, seeking her return under The Hague Convention. The court granted his application. This decision was unsuccessfully appealed by Ms Orosz, ultimately to the Hungarian Supreme Court, which confirmed the order in November 2008.

Meanwhile, the French courts had established Fiona’s habitual residence as that of her father in France and granted him sole parental authority in April 2008. It also authorised him to exercise his parental rights in Hungary.

In March 2009 the French courts issued a European Arrest Warrant for Ms Orosz to face child abduction charges. She was arrested on July 27th, 2009, and brought to the High Court in Budapest. However, Dr Shaw’s legal representatives were not informed and she was immediately released and then went into hiding with their daughter.

The French magistrate then issued an international letter rogatory, a request for mutual legal assistance, outlining 14 specific measures sought by the French authorities to obtain the return of the child. A representative of the French prosecutorial service went to Hungary seeking to have them implemented.

According to Mr Hinkler, this initiative was unsuccessful because the Hungarian authorities refused to execute 13 of the 14 points requested. A second European Arrest Warrant and a further international letter rogatory issued in July 2010 likewise remained without effect, he stated.

“These manifest and deliberate failings of the Hungarian authorities resulted in Fiona and her mother going into and remaining in hiding since July 2009. Furthermore, the child has not attended school since October 2008,” he said in his letter to the Council of Europe.

“The refusal of Hungary to respect the statutory objective of the Council of Europe (article 1(a) ‘to achieve a greater unity between its members’) by recognizing the decisions of the French courts is extremely perilous for Fiona, whose health, safety and education are gravely compromised.”

In response to a number of questions from The Irish Times, a spokesman for the Hungarian ministry of public administration and justice said: “On the basis of a letter rogatory issued by the High Court of Paris, further legal proceedings were enacted against Krisztina Orosz on charges of child abduction between February 2010 and September 2010. Under the supervision of the prosecution service, the Hungarian police took all possible action within its competency to ensure enforcement.”

Referring to its refusal to execute the European Arrest Warrant, it said that at the time the Hungarian authorities were also bringing a prosecution against Ms Orosz on the same charges, and this meant it could refuse the request.

The case illustrates the fact that the smooth functioning of The Hague Convention requires wholehearted commitment to the mutual enforcement of orders on the part of contracting states.

Even if the law and the culture relating to child welfare issues vary from country to country, as they do, the essence of the convention is that the child’s place of habitual residence is where that welfare should be decided, in accordance with that state’s laws.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Parental Alienation Syndrome: How to Detect It and What to Do About It


By J. Michael Bone and Michael R. Walsh

Although parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a familiar term, there is still a great deal of confusion and unclarity about its nature, dimensions, and, therefore, its detection.(1) Its presence, however, is unmistakable. In a longitudinal study of 700 “high conflict” divorce cases followed over 12 years, it was concluded that elements of PAS are present in the vast majority of the samples.(2) Diagnosis of PAS is reserved for mental health professionals who come to the court in the form of expert witnesses. Diagnostic hallmarks usually are couched in clinical terms that remain vague and open to interpretation and, therefore. susceptible to argument pro and con by opposing experts. The phenomenon of one parent turning the child against the other parent is not a complicated concept, but historically it has been difficult to identify clearly. Consequently, cases involving PAS are heavily litigated, filled with accusations and counter accusations, and thus leave the court with an endless search for details that eventually evaporate into nothing other than rank hearsay. It is our experience that the PAS phenomenon leaves a trail that can be identified more effectively by removing the accusation hysteria, and looking ahead in another positive direction.

For the purpose of this article the authors are assuming a fair degree of familiarity with parental alienation syndrome on the part of the reader.(3) There are many good writings on PAS which the reader may wish to consult now or in the future for general information. Our focus here is much more narrow. Specifically, the goal is twofold. First we will describe four very specific criteria that can be used to identify potential PAS. In most instances, these criteria can be identified through the facts of the case, but also can be revealed by deposition or court testimony. Secondly, we wish to introduce the concept of “attempted” PAS; that is when the criteria of PAS are present, but the child is not successfully alienated from the absent parent. This phenomenon is still quite harmful and the fact of children not being alienated should not be viewed as neutral by the court.


Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood.



The criteria described below are fairly easy to identify separate and apart from the court file. When there is uncertainty about any of them, these criteria can be used to guide the attorney in the deposing of witnesses as well as in their examination in court.

Criteria I: Access and Contact Blocking

Criteria I involves the active blocking of access or contact between the child and the absent parent. The rationale used to justify it may well take many different forms. One of the most common is that of protection. It may be argued that the absent parent’s parental judgment is inferior and, therefore, the child is much worse off from the visit. In extreme cases, this will take the form of allegations of child abuse, quite often sexual abuse. This will be addressed in more detail in Criteria II, but suffice it to say that often this is heard as a reason for visitation to be suspended or even terminated. On a more subtle and common level, an argument heard for the blocking of visitation is that seeing the absent parent is “unsettling” to the child, and that they need time “to adjust.” The message here is that the absent parent is treated less like a key family member and more like an annoying acquaintance that the child must see at times. Over time, this pattern can have a seriously erosive effect on the child’s relationship with the absent parent. An even more subtle expression of this is that the visitation is “inconvenient,” thereby relegating it to the status of an errand or chore. Again the result is the erosion of the relationship between the child and the absent or “target” parent. One phenomenon often seen in this context is that any deviation from the schedule is used as a reason to cancel visitation entirely.

The common thread to all of these tactics is that one parent is superior and the other is not and, therefore, should be peripheral to the child’s life. The alienating parent in these circumstances is acting inappropriately as a gatekeeper for the child to see the absent parent. When this occurs for periods of substantial time, the child is given the unspoken but clear message that one parent is senior to the other. Younger children are more vulnerable to this message and tend to take it uncritically; however, one can always detect elements of it echoed even into the teenage years. The important concept here is that each parent is given the responsibility to promote a positive relationship with the other parent. When this principle is violated in the context of blocking access on a consistent basis, one can assume that Criteria I has been, unmistakably identified.

Criteria II: Unfounded Abuse Allegations

The second criteria is related to false or unfounded accusations of abuse against the absent parent. The most strident expression of this is the false accusation of sexual abuse.(4) It has been well studied that the incident of false allegations of sexual abuse account for over half of those reported, when the parents are divorcing or are in conflict over some post dissolution issue.(5) This is especially the situation with small children who are more vulnerable to the manipulations implied by such false allegations. When the record shows that even one report of such abuse is ruled as unfounded, the interviewer is well advised to look for other expressions of false accusations.

Other examples of this might be found in allegations of physical abuse that investigators later rule as being unfounded. Interestingly our experience has been that there are fewer false allegations of physical abuse than of other forms of abuse, presumably because physical abuse leaves visible evidence. It is, of course, much easier to falsely accuse someone of something that leaves no physical sign and has no third party witnesses.

A much more common expression of this pattern would be that of what would be termed emotional abuse. When false allegations of emotional abuse are leveled, one often finds that what is present is actually differing parental judgment that is being framed as “abusive” by the absent parent. For example, one parent may let a child stay up later at night than the other parent would, and this scheduling might be termed as being “abusive” or “detrimental” to the child. Or one parent might introduce a new “significant other” to the child before the other parent believes that they should and this might also be called “abusive” to the child. Alternatively one parent might enroll a child in an activity with which the other parent disagrees and this activity is, in actuality, a difference of parental opinion that is now described as being abusive in nature. These examples, as trivial as they seem individually, may be suggestive of a theme of treating parental difference in inappropriately subjective judgmental terms. If this theme is present, all manner of things can be described in ways that convey the message of abuse, either directly or indirectly. When this phenomenon occurs in literally thousands of different ways and times, each of which seems insignificant on its own, the emotional atmosphere that it creates carries a clearly alienating effect on the child.

Obviously, this type of acrimony is very common in dissolution actions but such conflict should not necessarily be mistaken or be taken as illustrative of the PAS syndrome; however, the criteria is clearly present and identifiable when the parent is eager to hurl abuse allegations, rather than being cautious, careful. and even reluctant to do so. This latter stance is more in keeping with the parent’s responsibility to encourage and affirmatively support a relationship with the other parent. The responsible parent will only allege abuse after he or she has tried and failed to rationalize why the issue at hand is not abusive. Simply put, the responsible parent will give the other parent the benefit of the doubt when such allegations arise. He or she will, if anything, err on the side of denial, whereas the alienating parent will not miss an opportunity to accuse the other parent. When this theme is present in a clear and consistent way, this criteria for PAS is met.

Criteria III: Deterioration in Relationship Since Separation

The third of the criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is probably the least described or identified, but critically is one of the most important. It has to do with the existence of a positive relationship between the minor children and the now absent or nonresidential parent, prior to the marital separation; and a substantial deterioration, of it since then. Such a recognized decline does not occur on its own. It is, therefore, one of the most important indicators of the presence of alienation as well. as a full measure of its relative “success.” By way of example, if a father had a good and involved relationship with the children prior to the separation, and a very distant one since, then one can only assume without explicit proof to the contrary that something caused it to change. If this father is clearly trying to maintain a positive relationship with the children through observance of visitation and other activities and the children do not want to see him or have him involved in their lives, then one can only speculate that an alienation process may have been in operation. Children do not naturally lose interest in and become distant from their nonresidential parent simply by virtue of the absence of that parent. Also, healthy and established parental relationships do not erode naturally of their own accord. They must be attacked. Therefore, any dramatic change in this area is virtually always an indicator of an alienation process that has had some success in the past.

Most notably, if a careful evaluation of the pre-separation parental relationship is not made, its omission creates an impression that the troubled or even alienated status that exists since is more or lees an accurate summary of what existed previously. Note that nothing could be further from the truth! An alienated or even partially or intermittently alienated relationship with the nonresidential parent and the children after the separation is more accurately a distortion of the real parental relationship in question. Its follow-through is often overlooked in the hysterical atmosphere that is often present in these cases. A careful practitioner well knows that a close examination is warranted and that it must be conducted with the utmost detail and scrutiny.

If this piece of the puzzle is left out, the consequences can be quite devastating for the survival of this relationship. Also, without this component, the court can be easily swayed into premature closure or fooled into thinking that the turmoil of the separation environment is representative of the true parent-child relationship. Once this ruling is made by the court, it is an exacting challenge to correct its perception.

In a separate but related issue, a word should be said about the use of experts. First, it must be understood that all mental health professionals are not aware of nor know how to treat the PAS phenomenon. In fact, when a mental health professional unfamiliar with PAS is called upon to make a recommendation about custody, access, or related issues, he or she potentially can do more harm than good. For example, if the psychologist fails to investigate the pre-separation relationship of the nonresidential parent and the children, he or she may very easily mistake the current acrimony in that relationship to be representative of it, and recommend that the children should have less visitation with that parent, obviously supporting the undiagnosed PAS that is still in progress. If that expert also fails to evaluate critically the abuse claims or the agenda of the claimant, they may be taken at face value and again potentially support the undiagnosed PAS. If that professional is not also sensitive to the subtleties of access and contact blocking as its motivator, he or she may potentially support it, thereby contributing to the PAS process. When these things occur, the mental health professional expert has actually become part of the PAS, albeit unwittingly. Alarmingly, this happens often. Suffice it to say, if PAS is suspected, the attorney should closely and carefully evaluate the mental health professional’s investigation and conclusion. Failure to do so can cause irreparable harm to the case, and, ultimately to the children.


Criteria IV: Intense Fear Reaction by Children

The fourth criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is admittedly more psychological than the first three. It refers to an obvious fear reaction on the part of the children, of displeasing or disagreeing with the potentially alienating parent in regard to the absent or potential target parent. Simply put, an alienating parent operates by the adage, “My way or the highway.” If the children disobey this directive, especially in expressing positive approval of the absent parent, the consequences can be very serious. It is not uncommon for an alienating parent to reject the child(ren), often telling him or her that they should go live with the target parent. When this does occur one often sees that this threat is not carried out, yet it operates more as a message of constant warning. The child, in effect, is put into a position of being the alienating parent’s “agent” and is continually being put through various loyalty tests. The important issue here is that the alienating patent thus forces the child to choose parents. This, of course, is in direct opposition to a child’s emotional well being.

In order to fully appreciate this scenario, one must realize that the PAS process operates in a “fear based” environment. It is the installation of fear by the alienating parent to the minor children that is the fuel by which this pattern is driven; this fear taps into what psychoanalysis tell us is the most basic emotion inherent in human nature–the fear of abandonment. Children under these conditions live in a state of chronic upset and threat of reprisal. When the child does dare to defy the alienating parent, they quickly learn that there is a serious price to pay. Consequently, children who live such lives develop an acute sense of vigilance over displeasing the alienating parent. The sensitized observer can see this in visitation plans that suddenly change for no apparent reason. For example, when the appointed time approaches, the child suddenly changes his or her tune and begins to loudly protest a visit that was not previously complained about. It is in these instances that a court, once suspecting PAS must enforce in strict terms the visitation schedule which otherwise would not have occurred or would have been ignored.

The alienating parent can most often be found posturing bewilderment regarding the sudden change in their child’s feelings about the visit. In fact, the alienating parent often will appear to be the one supporting visitation. This scenario is a very common one in PAS families. It is standard because it encapsulates and exposes, if only for an instant, the fear-based core of the alienation process. Another way to express this concept would be that whenever the child is given any significant choice in the visitation, he or she is put in the position to act out a loyalty to the alienating parent’s wishes by refusing to have the visitation at all with the absent parent. Failure to do so opens the door for that child’s being abandoned by the parent with whom the child lives the vast majority of the time. Children, under these circumstances, will simply not opt on their own far a free choice. The court must thus act expeditiously to protect them and employ a host of specific and available remedies.(6)

As a consequence of the foregoing, these children learn to manipulate. Children often play one parent against the other in an effort to gain some advantage. In the case of PAS, the same dynamic operates at more desperate level. No longer manipulating to gain advantage, these children learn to manipulate just to survive. They become expert beyond their years at reading the emotional environment, telling partial truths, and then telling out-and-out lies. One must, however, remember that these are survival strategies that they were forced to learn in order to keep peace at home and avoid emotional attack by the residential parent. Given this understanding, it is perhaps easier to see why children, in an effort to cope with this situation, often find it easier if they begin to internalize the alienating parent’s perceptions of the absent parent and begin to echo these feelings. This is one of the most compelling and dramatic effects of PAS, that is, hearing a child vilifying the absent parent and joining the alienating parent in such attacks. If one is not sensitive to the “fear-based” core at the heart of this, it is difficult not to take the child’s protests at face value. This, of course, is compounded when the expert is also not sensitive to this powerful fear component, and believes that the child is voicing his or her own inner feelings in endorsing the “no visitation” plan.


Conclusion

All the criteria listed above can be found independent of each other in highly contested dissolutions, but remember that the appearance of some of them does not always constitute PAS. When all four are clearly present, however, add the possibility of real abuse has been reasonably ruled out, the parental alienation process is operative. This does not necessarily mean, however, that it is succeeding in that the children are being successfully alienated from the target parent. The best predictor of successful alienation is directly related to the success of the alienating parent at keeping the children from the target parent. When there are substantial periods in which they do not see the other parent, the children are more likely to be poisoned by the process. Another variable that predicts success is the child’s age. Younger children generally are more vulnerable than older ones. Also, another variable is the depth and degree of involvement of the pre-separation parent-child relationship. The longer and more involved that relationship, the less vulnerable will be the children to successful alienation. The final predictor is the parental tenacity of the target parent. A targeted parent often gives up and walks away, thus greatly increasing the chances of successful alienation.

The question remains: What if all four criteria are present, but the children are not successfully alienated? Should this failure at alienation be seen as nullifying the attempt at alienation? The answer to that should be a resounding “No!” It should be, but often it is not. It is very common to read a psychological evaluation or a GAL’s report that identified PAS but then notes that since it was not successful, it should not be taken very seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood, which is to promote and encourage a positive and loving relationship with the other parent, and the concept of shared parental responsibility.

It is our feeling that when attempted PAS has been identified, or not, it must be dealt with swiftly by the court. If it is not, it will contaminate and quietly control all other parenting issues and then lead only to unhappiness, frustration, and, lastly, parental estrangement.

Also read an alienated dad`s blog

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Les også Ole Texmo

Warning of child abduction to sharia law states


Source:The Irish Times, Dublin

FORMER MEP Mary Banotti has called on the Government to monitor the number of reported child abduction cases involving sharia law countries which have not signed international conventions on the issue.

Figures published by the Department of Justice last week showed that a record 141 transnational child abduction cases were dealt with by the authorities last year.

The department said 141 cases involving 183 children were received by the Central Authority for Child Abduction in 2008, an increase of 42 cases on 2007 and the highest annual total since the unit was established in 1991.

However, Ms Banotti, who is president of Irish Centre for Parentally Abducted Children, said it was very difficult to retrieve children who were abducted by one parent to a state that had not signed the Hague conventions on child abduction. Cases involving countries governed by sharia law were particularly difficult to resolve.

“I think there should be a record kept of all children removed to sharia law countries,” she said.

Ms Banotti pointed to a case in which an Irish woman, originally from a north African state, was reunited in January with her four children six years after her husband took them back to their country of origin without her consent. Because the African state had not signed the Hague conventions, the woman had no legal avenue to pursue in order to retrieve her children, who were aged between two and seven when they were taken in 2002.

She was eventually reunited with them in January after her husband was arrested by gardaí on his return to Ireland.

Ms Banotti said the latest child abduction figures corroborated her organisation’s view that the problem remained significant. The centre received reports of seven abductions in the past week.

A major shift in trends in recent years was that, whereas women until recently made up the vast majority of those reporting abduction, today at least half of reports came from men.

While the overwhelming majority of transnational abduction cases investigated here once involved the United States and the UK, recent immigration patterns are reflected in the variety of central and eastern European countries that have appeared on the department’s list in recent years.

In 2008, a total of 33 cases related to states that joined the EU since 2004, including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com