Local father desperate after son is reportedly taken to Russia


September 23, 2016

Source: http://news10.com

A Queensbury man is raising awareness to a growing global issue of International Child Abduction. It happens when a child is wrongfully taken and held in another country by a parent.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.

Corey McKeighan shares custody of his son Xavier with his mother who is from Russia.

Abducted_Russia

What was supposed to be a mother and son three week trip to her country, has McKeighan worried he will never get his son back.

Xavier is bright and full of energy. He just turned 4 on Monday.

“He was the best kid in the world. He was happy, he was funny.”

His ex-wife agreed to return on September 16th.

“The day before they were supposed to return, she had called me and said, ‘We’re not coming back and you’ll never see us again.’”

In a panic, McKeighan contacted the U.S. State Department, FBI, and congressional leaders. They are working with the foreign government to resolve this case that they say is international child abduction.

“It’s a gigantic problem,” International Family Law Attorney Jeremy Morley said.

Jeremy Morley

Morley has worked on hundreds of these types of cases. In Russia, it is difficult because our countries are not in a treaty relationship.

“We know that the Russian legal system is unpredictable. What I would do in a case like this is start the process by making contact with the taken parent and advising the taken parent of how dangerous their intended course of conduct is.”

Xavier was diagnosed with autism and his routine and treatment is back home in New York.

His father is still waiting to give his son a card for his 4th birthday.

“The first thing I would do is sing, ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ with him because that’s one of our favorite songs,” Corey said. “I feel like I keep hitting walls. I just keep seeing him in my heart and in my mind. It pushes me nonstop ever day, just trying to do what I can.”

A U.S. State Department official says:

“We are aware of the reports regarding an international parental child abduction case.  Due to privacy considerations, we decline to provide additional details.

One of the Department’s highest priorities is the welfare of U.S. citizens overseas. This is particularly true for children, who are among our most vulnerable citizens.  The Bureau of Consular Affairs, along with our Embassies and Consulates, works with parents and foreign governments to try to resolve these difficult cases. Generally speaking, in cases involving international parent-child abductions a U.S. Embassy or Consulate can facilitate contact with local authorities, provide information on local judicial and law enforcement processes, offer a list of attorneys and translators, and issue passports or other travel documents as appropriate under U.S law.”

McKeighan has created a Facebook Page to raise awareness of this global issue in the hopes of bringing Xavier back home to the United States.

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Mother’s arrest at D/FW Airport shows difficulties of international custody disputes


19 September , 2014

Source: DallasNews 

Like many divorces, Padmashini and Dean Drees’ breakup in 2004 was bitter.

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There were mutual allegations of abuse, suspicions of infidelity and a nasty fight over custody of the couple’s toddler son, Drew.

But when Padmashini Drees traveled with Drew to India seven years ago and didn’t return, the family’s problems reached the U.S. State Department and the FBI.

Though custody battles tend to be messy, international cases like the one involving the Dreeses can drag on for years. The U.S. Supreme Court has wrestled with at least two disputes since 2012. Clashing legal systems become hurdles for the parents.

The parent left behind has little recourse if a U.S. court order is not recognized in another country. The parent who takes the child abroad in violation of a custody order could face criminal prosecution should he or she ever return to U.S. soil.

The North Texas case appeared to have a movie-script ending July 9, when Dean Drees reunited with Drew, who is now 10. A McKinney police photo showed a smiling father embracing his son.

Officers arrested Padmashini Drees when her flight landed at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. They accused her of abducting her son and put her in jail.

The case is not settled.

Padmashini Drees was released from the Collin County Jail on Sept. 2. Her felony charge of interference with child custody is pending. If convicted, she faces up to two years in state jail.

“Today, Padma has the option of making a comfortable life anywhere in the world,” said her attorney, Scott Mackenzie, in a written statement. “She has chosen to stay in the United States to fight for her son and get the justice that she truly deserves.”

Neither Padmashini Drees nor Dean Drees would speak with a reporter except through their lawyers.

The mother

Padmashini Drees’ life in the U.S. began in the early 2000s as her first marriage, an arranged union, crumbled, her attorney said.

Trained as an architect, she enrolled in a computer-aided design class where she met Dean Drees. The couple married in August 2003 and started a family in a middle-class neighborhood in McKinney.

Dean Drees filed for divorce in October 2004, nine months after Drew’s birth.

In 2006, a court in Collin County granted Padmashini and Dean Drees joint custody of Drew. It also set the boy’s primary residence with his father and ordered his mother to pay child support.

India

Mackenzie said Padmashini Drees, a green-card holder, lived under her husband’s constant threats of deportation.

“In light of that, I can understand why she felt the need to run,” Mackenzie said.

Dean Drees’ attorney, Tiffany Haertling, denied the allegations. She lamented that Padmashini Drees “would choose to continue to inflict hurt and grief on an already unfortunate situation.”

Drew was about 3 years old when his mother took him overseas. They lived in India and also traveled to England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Indonesia and Thailand, according to a court document.

The father

Dean Drees told a Collin County court that he made “continuous efforts” to get his son back for the seven years he was away. He hired private investigator Danny Russell to track down Drew. Russell worked with federal agencies and others to locate the boy.

Dean Drees missed Drew “immensely” and was desperate to find him, Russell said.

“He was a very polite father who was fearful of the worst because he didn’t know what had happened to his son,” Russell said. “He had no contact.”

India is a haven for parental child abductions, said Jeremy Morley, a New York attorney and former co-chairman of the International Family Law Committee of the American Bar Association.

The Asian nation hasn’t signed the Hague Abduction Convention, a treaty that encourages the safe return of children taken from their home countries.

“There is no consistency in the approaches of the Indian courts in these cases,” Morley said, “and the Indian legal system is extremely slow and can be corrupt.”

The U.S. State Department reported 702 parental child abductions from the U.S. to another country in 2013. India accounted for 28 cases, trailing only Mexico and Canada.

Coming home

In December, Padmashini Drees restored Drew’s contact with Dean Drees through video chats. Dean Drees asked his ex-wife to come back with Drew so they could both parent the boy, Mackenzie said.

“Despite the warnings given to her by Indian authorities and other people … she kind of hoped Dean would have mercy on her and try to work with her,” the attorney said.

On July 16, a Collin County court suspended Padmashini Drees’ access to her son as part of the civil custody case.

Her legal team wants to resolve the felony case before pursuing visitation with Drew, Mackenzie said. Padmashini Drees has no intention of taking her son back to India, the attorney said.

Parents should seek proper legal advice instead of trying to resolve custody issues themselves, said Morley, the New York attorney.

“She took the law into her own hands,” he said of Padmashini Drees. “Now she’s paying the price.”

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What Is The Hague Abduction Convention?


Source / By Jermey Morley

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty signed by more than eighty countries.

-It provides that a child who is taken to or retained in a foreign country without the consent of a person with “rights of custody” over the child under the law of the child’s “habitual residence” must be returned to the habitual residence unless one of six exceptions applies.

Hague Convention Member Countries

What is ICARA?
In the United States the Convention is integrated into law by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, known as “ICARA.” That law gives state and federal courts concurrent jurisdiction to handle Hague cases. The law also provides the burdens of proof that govern the conduct of Hague trials. In addition, the law provides that if a petition is successful the parent who has taken a child away from its habitual residence must pay the legal fees and travel expenses of the petitioning parent.

The Purpose of the Hague Convention
The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the purpose of the Convention is “to prevent harms resulting from abductions” which “can have devastating consequences for a child” and may be “one of the worst forms of child abuse” which “can cause psychological problems ranging from depression and acute stress disorder to post traumatic stress disorder and identity formation issues” and lead to a child’s experiencing “loss of community and stability, leading to loneliness, anger, and fear of abandonment” and “may prevent the child from forming a relationship with the left behind parent, impairing the child’s ability to mature.”

The Key Terms in the Hague Convention

1. “Right of Custody” in the Hague Convention

A petitioner in a Hague case must establish that he or she had a “right of custody” over the child under the law of the child’s habitual residence.. This does not require that there must have been a custody order in place before the child was taken. It means that the law in question gave certain rights to the petitioner which are sufficient to constitute a custody right. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a parent’s right to prevent international travel, known as a ne exeat right, is a “right of custody” within the meaning of the Convention.

2. “Habitual Residence” in the Hague Convention

The key term of “habitual residence” is not defined in the Convention.

In many judicial circuits in the United States there is a heavy presumption that a child’s habitual residence should be determined by “the last shared intent” of the child’s parents, unless it is clearly shown that the child has become acclimatized to another jurisdiction. The courts in other circuits look primarily at the position of the child reviewed objectively without regard to parental intention. Many Hague cases are won or lost based on the application of the competing approaches to the often-complicated facts of particular international situations.

Mr. Jeremy D. Morley is an international lawyer & advisor who is well-known for international child abduction & hague convention issues.

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