Intense Child Custody Disputes are Rarely About the Best Interests of the Child


October 4 , 2014

Source: socialworkhelper 

Child custody disputes are rarely about the best interest of the child, and the stories are all too common. A parent is reported to have abducted their child as part of a long-standing custody and access dispute. Indeed, a quick Google search reveals almost 500,000 hits for the term parental abduction.The term parent alienation yielded over 1 million hits.

PAS_Parental-alienation

For the children, these battles between parents can be scary, particularly when they involve some form of abduction. They are being taken away from a parent who loves them by a parent who also professes the same thing. How can this be? But the abduction is rarely a unique event in the lives of children. They typically have faced years of conflict between parents. The list of what children are exposed too is long:

parental child abduction 300x170 Intense Child Custody Disputes are Rarely About the Best Interests of the Child• Parents yelling at each other;
• Arguments in public at custody exchange places;
• Put downs of the other parent;
• Denial of financial support as a means of getting back at a parent;
• Refusal to allow a child to bring favourite toys or clothes to a visit;
• Efforts to get the child to take sides.

It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a variety of other ways that parents seek to get back at each other. Too often, courts become part of the toolbox used by an angry parent. Anyone who has worked in this area can tell stories of a parent (too often representing themselves in court) filing petition after petition against the other parent. There are also the tragic cases where a parent kills the child. Here in Alberta, we recently saw the death of 9-year-old Amber Lucius. It is believed that her mother killed her. The media reports a six-year custody battle.

Courts are typically more focused on parents who can manage to get along or at least will honour the orders of the courts. They are not as effective with cases where the parent simply ignores the court orders. While this will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, there is no doubt that the defiant parent will have created much havoc before the court holds that parent to task. Many will never get held accountable as the other parent just gives up – they can’t manage the battle any longer or they are out of money to defend themselves in court.

Child protection systems are often reluctant to get involved. They feels that a competent justice system is in place through family and divorce courts. Yet, these more extreme cases carry on creating damage to the child. A study just published in the journal Development and Psychopathology researchers Raver, Blair and Garrett-Peters showed that children who are exposed to verbal and physical aggression between parents have long term negative effects which include the ability to identify and regulate emotions. In other words, they suffer from a form of emotional abuse. Conflict between parents warring over custody and access can fit this description.

Child protection should get involved in these cases. They can bring another force of control against the non-compliant parent. In more extreme cases that might lead to more intrusive arrangements by child protection where a child is removed to kinship or foster care. These child custody disputes, while under the guise of the best interests of the child, are far from it. Society needs to be willing to protect the child and child protection may need to be one way to do that when other court based interventions fail.

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Queensland mother Dorothy Lee Barnett to be extradited to US for alleged child abduction


September 4 , 2014

Source: Brisbanetimes

A mother accused of abducting her infant daughter 20 years ago will be extradited to the United States.

The federal government has ordered Dorothy Lee Barnett, 53, be surrendered to US authorities to face international parental kidnapping charges, despite an appeal from her lawyers.

Ms Barnett was arrested on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast last year and charged with kidnapping her 10-month-old daughter, Savannah Todd, in 1994 and fleeing the US.

A digitally aged photo of Dorothy Lee Barnett released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children during the search for the alleged kidnapper.

A digitally aged photo of Dorothy Lee Barnett released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children during the search for the alleged kidnapper. Photo: Supplied

In November 2013 Australian and US police found Ms Barnett and her daughter, who now goes by the name of ­Samantha Geldenhuys, living in the suburb of Mountain Creek, west of Mooloolaba.

When arrested, Ms Barnett consented to extradition but then reneged.

Her lawyers asked the federal government to prevent the extradition, but federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan ordered this week that Ms Barnett be surrendered.

Savannah Harris Todd was taken when she was 11 months old.
Savannah Harris Todd was discovered at the age of 20 living in Australia.

Savannah Harris Todd was discovered at the age of 20 living in Australia

“The minister arrived at his determination following careful consideration of the provisions of Australia’s extradition law and taking into account representations made by, and on behalf of, Ms Barnett,” a government spokeswoman said in a statement to Fairfax Media.

According to US authorities, Samantha’s American father, millionaire stockbroker Benjamin Harris Todd III, had been granted sole custody of the then-10-month-old.

It is alleged Ms Barnett left for a birthday party with her infant daughter in South Carolina and never returned.

Mr Todd has spent the last two decades searching for his daughter, making public appeals for information on her whereabouts and circulating age-progressed photos of Samantha and her mother on international missing persons websites.

Ms Barnett is alleged to have fled to Europe on a false passport, changing her name to Alexandra Canton.

In 1995, she married a man named Juan Geldenhuys in South Africa with whom she had a son.

The family moved to New Zealand, before settling in Australia in 2007.

Mr Geldenhuys returned to South Africa about five years ago and is believed to have died from bone cancer in October, just weeks before his former wife’s arrest.

Samantha attended the local high school on the Sunshine Coast and, after graduating, moved to Townsville to study nursing at James Cook University, where she found a boyfriend in an engineering student.

Ms Barnett faces more than a decade in a US prison if convicted of international parental kidnapping and passport-related offences.

She has remained in custody since her arrest last year, but has regular visits from her daughter and son.

US authorities have two months in which to escort Ms Barnett to the US, subject to any application for a review of Mr Keenan’s order.

 

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Former NBA Star ALLEN IVERSON Ex-Wife Claims HE STOLE OUR KIDS


June 17 , 2013

Source: tmz.com

Former NBA star Allen Iverson has abducted his own children … so says his ex-wife, and now she’s begging the court to force Allen to give them back.

0613-allen-iverson-tawanna-ap-3

Tawanna Iverson just filed legal docs, claiming Allen recently asked for permission to take their five kids on a short vacation to Charlotte, NC from May 22nd-May 26th (and Tawanna agreed) but when May 26th rolled around, the children hadn’t been returned.

The kids range in age from 3 to 16 years old.

In the docs, Tawanna says she tried to set up an exchange on June 4th at a neutral location — a nearby Target store — but A.I. never showed up.

Tawanna — who has sole legal and primary physical custody of their children — now believes Allen never took their kids to Charlotte at all … and is currently keeping them at a Sheraton hotel in Georgia.

Tawanna claims she’s especially concerned because Allen’s an alcoholic who drinks around their kids. 

She now wants the court to force him to return the kids … and punish him as well, even suggesting the judge throw his ass in jail.

It’s not the first time she’s tried to get Iverson locked up … she had previously begged the court to send him to the pokey for allegedly not paying more than $40,000 in child support.

Attempts to reach Allen were unsuccessful.

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U.S / Barbados – Mother who kidnapped children gets 18 months


January 19, 2013

Source: Buffalo News

Jacqueline Bontzolakes says an abusive relationship forced her to gather up her two kids, flee her Town of Tonawanda home and escape to faraway Barbados.

map of caribbean

A federal court jury didn’t buy her story, however, and instead found her guilty in one of Buffalo’s first cases of international parental kidnapping.

Today, a judge sentenced Bontzolakes to 18 months in prison, well below what he could have given her.

“I ended up doing something I regret in order to protect my daughter,” she told U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson in a tearful plea for leniency.

Bontzolakes never denied taking her kids away from their fathers and leaving the country, but insisted there were sound reasons for what she did – the fear that her oldest daughter also was being abused.

Federal prosecutors tell a far different story of why Bontzolakes kidnapped her children. They claim it was because she had lost custody of the girl.

“I would ask the court not to forget who the real victims are here, the two children she kidnapped,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Fauzia K. Mattingly told Wilson, a visiting judge from Arkansas.

With nearly two dozen of Bontzolakes’ family, friends and supporters looking on, Wilson stopped well short of the three-year sentence he could have given her under federal sentencing guidelines.

The government’s case against Bontzolakes offers a glimpse into international parental kidnapping, which until this year was rare, if not unheard of, in Buffalo federal court.

It has been a long-standing problem elsewhere, however, an issue so big that a Hague Convention in 1980 resulted in an international treaty governing how countries deal with these types of kidnappings.

 

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Research – Parental Child Abduction


January 16, 2013

Source: Victims Of Violence 

INTRODUCTION

It is estimated that a child goes missing every 9 minutes in Canada. When we think of child abduction, we often picture a stranger snatching our child as they walk home from school. However, the majority of child abductions are committed by someone the child knows and, in many cases, the abductor is a parent. There were 237 parental abductions in 2009, compared to 50 stranger abductions. Parental Abduction is defined as, “the wilful taking of a child with the intent of depriving the other parent, guardian or any other person having lawful care and charge of that child of the possession of that child.”(RCMP). This may at first seem like a benign form of abduction, but it is important to realize that parental abduction is a crime and can have a serious impact on the left-behind parent, the family, and the abducted child.

Child_Abducted_Canada

MOTIVES FOR PARENTAL ABDUCTION

Parents may abduct their children for several different reasons. A common motive is for revenge and as a power play. These parents believe that they have not been treated fairly in a custody battle and may feel misrepresented in court. They will take their child both to hurt the other parent, and simply to assert that they are capable of doing so. Some parents abduct their child out of fear for the child’s safety. This is common in cases where a spouse, usually the wife, is abused by her partner. She will usually take her child to protect him or her from abuse. Shares custody parents may fear that their child is subject to neglect and endangerment when with the other parent.

PROFILE OF ABDUCTORS

There are a number of factors that may contribute to parental abduction including; socioeconomic status, psychological and sociological issues, the relationship between the parent and the child, and the child’s age. The following is a list of characteristics that theRCMP have complied in an attempt to create a general overview of the common parent abductor:

  • Both mother and father are equally likely to abduct their child. Mothers tend to do so after a court order while fathers tend to abduct the child before the court order is made.
  • Mothers tend to keep their abducted child longer than fathers. But most parental abductions are short and are resolved in about 7 days.
  • Parent abductors tend to be between the ages of 28 and 40.
  • Although socio-economic factors vary from case to case, fathers tend to be employed and mothers tend not to be.
  • Most abducted children are young, between the ages of 3 and 7. Children who are taken out of the country are usually older, over 8 years of age.
  • Male and female children are equally likely to be abducted.
  • Children are usually abducted from the home, and abductions usually take place during weekends or holidays (summer, Christmas break, March break.).
  • Various modes of transportation are used and accomplices (commonly other family members or a current partner) are used in about 50% of the cases.
  • Physical or sexual abuse is not common and only occurs in a very small percentage of these abductions.
  • Most ‘left-behind’ parents report the abduction immediately; however some will delay reporting the incident.

Although each case has different circumstances, this general profile provides police with information that will help them to locate and recover the missing child.

ABDUCTION LAWS

Parental Abduction is a criminal offence, and can be found under section 283(1) in the Criminal Code which states:

Everyone who, being the parent, guardian or person having the lawful care or charge of a person under the age of fourteen years, takes, entices away, conceals, detains, receives or harbours that person, whether or not there is a custody order in relation to that person made by a court anywhere in Canada, with intent to deprive a parent or guardian, or any other person who has the lawful care or charge of the possession of that person, is guilty of

  1. an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
  2. an offence punishable on summary conviction.

There are two exceptions to this section:

  1. No one can be found guilty of the abduction offence (under sections 281 to 283) if they are able to establish that there was consent by the parent, guardian or other person having lawful possession, care or charge of that young person.
  2. No one can be found guilty of an offence under sections 280 to 283 if the court is satisfied that the abduction of the young person was “… necessary to protect the young person from danger of imminent harm or if the person charged with the offence was escaping from danger of imminent harm.”

Importantly, a parent who abducts their child cannot make a defence by claiming that the child consented to or suggested the abduction.

Section 282(2) pertains to abduction in contravention of the custody provisions set out in a custody order and is essentially the same as what has been set out in section 283(1). However, if an individual is not proven guilty under Section 282, they can still be found guilty under Section 283(1).

children_safety2

INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTIONS

International child abductions involve either a parent abducting their child and taking them out of the country, or a parent in another country who prevents the child from returning home to the other parent. Revenge is often a strong motive behind this type of abduction, and the abducting parent will often try to turn the child against the other parent by convincing him/her that the other parent does not care for or love them. If you are worried that your child’s other parent may take him/her out of the country, you may notify a local passport office to have your child’s name placed on the passport control list which will put officials on alert (you need to provide certain documentation to do this). If your child is a dual-citizen, however, this may not be sufficient. The media can have either a mixed influence in abduction cases. Media attention may assist in fuelling the international search for a missing child, or it may cause the abducting parent to go into hiding.

THE HAGUE CONVENTION

Over 30 years ago, the international community recognized the need for a program to ensure cooperation between countries as a way to resolve and prevent international parental abduction cases. Canada was the second country to ratify this Convention which came into effect on December 1, 1983. The Hague convention has two objectives. The first is to ensure the prompt return of an abducted child to his/her home country and the second objective is to ensure that the rights of custody/ access to the child under the law of one contracting state are respected in the other contracting states.

The Hague convention may be applicable if:

  1. The child was a resident of Canada immediately before the abduction
  2. The wrongful abduction was in breach of rights of custody/access to the child
  3. At the time of the abduction, the convention applied between Canada and the country to which the abducted child was taken.
  4. The child is under 16 years of age.

If the convention applies to the country (or area of the country) to which a child has been taken, authorities can provide a parent with the appropriate paperwork. The Canadian central authority will forward the documents to the foreign central authority that will then pass them along to the local judicial authority. If the child will not be returned voluntarily, a court hearing may take place. If all conditions are met and no exceptions apply, the foreign court will order the return of the child.

There are some exceptions to the Hague convention:

  • The accused parent is able to prove that the other parent consented to the child’s removal/ later acquiesced to it or was not exercising custody rights when the child was abducted/ retained.
  • The child may be at risk of physical or psychological harm or be placed in an intolerable situation if returned.
  • The child objects to being returned and is old enough and mature enough to have his/her opinion taken into account.

There are no costs associated with The Hague Convention application process; however there may be costs associated with the legal proceedings and travel costs.

There are currently 80 countries who have signed the Hague convention: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China (Hong Kong), China (Macao), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, FYR of Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Note: In some countries, the Hague Convention pertains to only certain provinces, states, or territories of the country.

Trafficking-Children-Stop

EFFECTS ON THE VICTIMS

The Left-Behind Family

The first thing that the left-behind family experiences is shock and disbelief. They cannot believe that their loved one has been taken away by a fellow family member. Panic as to the whereabouts of the child and how to get proper assistance will cause both the left-behind parent and any left-behind siblings to experience serious emotional distress.

The left-behind parent often has an incredibly difficult time maintaining work commitments while searching for their child. Feelings of anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, despair, loneliness, and guilt are common emotions. Most left-behind parents also suffer from disturbances in sleep patterns, loss of appetite, and severe depression. The emotional turmoil might also manifest in physical symptoms such as re-occurring headaches and nausea. And in some situations, the parent may turn to drugs or alcohol to handle the pain.

Any left-behind siblings also experience the pain of the loss of their brother/sister. Like the left-behind parents, the siblings also experience a variety of emotions and physical ailments. Since their parent is so focused on the return of the kidnapped child, the other children may feel neglected and develop hostile feelings towards the kidnapped child for taking all of the attention.

The Abducted Child

Despite the fact that the abducted child is with their parent or guardian, the experience can be terrifying and cause long-term damage. Often these children will live the life of a fugitive; dragged around by their parent from place to place in an effort to avoid authorities. The distress of suddenly losing friends and family and having to deal with constantly changing environments is an incredibly stressful experience. Even when the child is safely returned he/she will still be affected by the experience. A fear of abandonment and loss of trust are common issues for children who have been kidnapped by a parent. They may also suffer from depression, loneliness, excessive fearfulness, helplessness and anger. There are a number of mental disorders that are commonly associated with parental child abductions such as separation anxiety disorder, ADHDPTSD, eating disorders, learning disabilities and conduct disorder. As the experience of abduction can have such a traumatic effect on the child, it is important that the parent or guardian get the child proper help as soon as he or she is returned.

HELPFUL TIPS

One of the most important things a parent can do to help avoid parental abduction is to remain on good terms with the other parent and try to remain on good terms with the child’s other grandparents. If you expect that your child is at risk of abduction, make sure to talk to him or her. Explain how the custody situation works, teach them how to use the phone (especially 911 and long distance), make sure that your children know that you love them, and listen to them – information they provide may be your first clue. Keep track of what they wear on a daily basis. Keep records of all important information and store it in a safe place that is unknown or inaccessible to the other parent. As indicated earlier, it is also possible to add your child to the passport control list.

If your child is abducted by the other parent, get in touch with local authorities immediately. Provide them with any information you have and limit access to your home until law enforcement has collected any possible evidence. Contact the birth certificate office to block any application for a birth certificate by the abducting parent (you will need specific documentation to do this). Contact any search organizations such as Child Find and register your child as missing. If you plan to go to the media, ask the police for help and advice on the best way to do so. Most importantly, take care of yourself and your family, you need to be strong for your child and any other children left behind.

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Mexico / U.S – Cross-Border Child Custody, a Legal Tangle


Source: IPS News

MEXICO CITY, Jan 14, 2012 (IPS) – Mexican or foreign-born children being held by one of their parents in this or another country are caught up in a legal tangle marred by red tape and the arbitrary powers of judges, according to experts.

The claim for restitution of an under-age child taken to another country, or to Mexico, is based on the Inter-American Convention on International Restitution of Minors (IACIRM), ratified by Mexico in 1994, and the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which came into force in 1983.

“Lawmakers are not necessarily familiar with the provisions of the conventions. Most judges do not use them as references in their decisions. And the red tape, when a child is abducted from or brought to Mexico, is a real ordeal for the families,” Martín Pérez, head of the Network for Children’s Rights in Mexico (REDIM), told IPS.

Moreover, the families “have to undertake the search for their children using their own resources,” added Pérez, the executive director of REDIM, a coalition of 63 NGOs that carries out programmes for vulnerable children and adolescents.

In 2008, there were 272 petitions for the return of children to custody, compared to 123 in 2003, according to the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. These figures do not include petitions brought under the IACIRM.

And there were 168 demands for restitution under the IACIRM in 2008, an increase of 522 percent compared with 2003.

Fifteen Latin American and Caribbean nations reported 315 petitions for the return of minors in 2008, equivalent to 16 percent of the world total. In 61 of these cases, both countries involved were within the region.

In 2010, there were 221 such cases in Mexico; 101 of them involved the abduction from this country to others of 141 children or adolescents; and the remaining 120 cases involved 169 irregular transfers of minors from other countries to Mexico, according to the foreign ministry, which is the designated central authority in Mexico tasked with fulfilling the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention.

Mexico’s free trade treaties, like the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and the United States and the 2000 Global Agreement with the European Union, brought transnational companies flocking to Mexico, creating opportunities for marriage between Mexican citizens and foreigners as well as increasing the presence of couples from other countries.

“We don’t have national legislation for detecting, warning and following up on these kinds of cases. There is no comprehensive system for the protection of children, paying paramount attention to the best interests of the child, nor of measures to benefit mothers and children,” Nashieli Ramírez, general coordinator of Ririki Intervención Social, an NGO active on behalf of the rights of children, told IPS.

The aim of the Inter-American and the Hague conventions is for minors to be returned to their country of origin when they have been illegally taken away or kept in another, and for a parent’s custody rights, granted by any state, to be respected and monitored.

In 2008 there were 36 cases in Mexico in which children were voluntarily returned, nine of which involved a court decision based on an agreement between the parents and 22 on decisions without an agreement, while in another 34 cases restitution was legally denied because the child did not reside in the petitioning country, or the petitioner did not have custody rights.

Forty-nine percent of the persons who brought the legal complaints were fathers, and 47 percent mothers. In 2008, 270 children were involved in the lawsuits, 51 percent of whom were girls and 49 percent boys. This contrasted with 2003, when the gender balance was markedly skewed, with 64 percent of the children being girls.

Final decisions on the proceedings can take months, comparable to the global average. Voluntary repatriations took an average of 232 days, compared to the world average of 121 days, while restitution by court order took 206 days, and judicial denials 290 days, on average.

Time is regarded as a key factor by the experts, especially in cases where the mother has been a victim of domestic violence and the child is at risk.

In its 2011 response to the questionnaire on fulfilment of the Hague Abduction Convention, Mexico’s foreign ministry acknowledged that while some judges were experts on international abduction of minors, the majority were experts in family law.

It also indicated that legal advice was provided at the start of proceedings, but the parties involved had to find their own legal representation, at their own cost.

“The children’s views are not consistently taken into account, and the legal rights of the plaintiff are not safeguarded. Therefore, legislative harmonisation, training of judges and lawmakers and clear procedures are required,” REDIM’s Pérez recommended. A new feature observed by experts is “parental alienation”, involving brainwashing of the abducted minor by the abducting parent against the other, which inflicts emotional damage on the child.

The foreign ministry also admitted that it does not use the Hague Convention’s iChild system.

iChild is an electronic case management tool that is used to identify, save and share information and monitor cases of child abduction.

“What predominates in Mexico is a view of children as part of the private domain, and not the public domain. So the issue needs to be on the public agenda and in the state budget,” said Ramírez, of Ririki Intervención Social.

In October 2011, a constitutional reform established that the best interest of the child was to be the guiding principle in all the decisions and actions of the state.

But the problem of parental abductions of minors does not appear in campaigns on behalf of children organised by NGOs, nor is it mentioned among the recommendations made to the Mexican state by the internationally elected Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of the Child, as part of its task of monitoring implementation of the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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‘My children are my everything — the reason I’m alive’


Source: The Japan Times

Left-behind father makes desperate journey to Fukushima to reunite with kids

 

By SIMON SCOTT

On Bruce Gherbetti’s right forearm, the names of his three lost children are permanently inscribed in a swirling script of dark blue tattoo ink.

 

News photo
Canadian Bruce Gherbetti is reunited with his eldest daughter in Fukushima Prefecture in September after a difficult two years apart. SIMON SCOTT

 

“They go with me everywhere I go,” he says, smiling. “It is a physical representation of the fact that my children and I will never be separated. They are my everything — the reason I am alive.”

It was a very long, painful two years and two weeks before Gherbetti, a Canadian, was finally reunited with his children in Japan this September and was able, if only briefly, to see and speak with them again.

Tears in his eyes, Gherbetti described the reaction of his oldest daughter, now 8, when she saw him standing in the backyard of the house where the children now live.

“(She) saw me and it registered in about four seconds, and she said ‘Dada.’

“I opened my arms and she came running into my arms. I was afraid that wouldn’t happen, but also I was quietly confident in my heart that it would.

“I visualized that whole scenario every day for the last two years. It’s gold — it’s absolute gold.”

The journey from his home in Vancouver to a small town in Fukushima Prefecture just 50 km from the leaking No.1 nuclear plant has been a long and arduous one. In September 2009, during the breakdown of their marriage, Gherbetti’s wife took their three children — then 6, 4 and 2 years old — to Japan.

“I was absolutely devastated.” explains Gherbetti. “I arrived home and the house was utterly empty and devoid of all traces of my family and children. I felt at a loss and confused, but at the same time there was a realization that my children were gone — overseas, back to Japan.”

 

News photo
Gherbetti and a supporter celebrate after the surprise visit to his estranged wife’s home. SIMON SCOTT

 

Gherbetti’s wife accused him of domestic violence shortly before taking the children — an allegation he vehemently denies.

After his children were taken, Gherbetti suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, for which he underwent counseling in Canada. He also joined a number of web-based support groups for left-behind parents and gradually, over time, built up the confidence to come to Japan to find his kids.

On Sept. 21 this year he flew to Japan, and within two days of arriving in the country he travelled up to tsunami-hit Fukushima, accompanied by a group of supporters, in search of his lost children.

All previous attempts Gherbetti had made to contact his children had been blocked by his wife, whom he has only spoken to once since she took the kids to Japan. Gherbetti says that during that conversation, his wife chillingly told him she wanted to “erase Canada from the children’s memories.”

Gherbetti says he can understand and accept that his estranged wife wants to bury the past, but he believes it is his children who will ultimately suffer by being alienated from their natural father.

“None of this is about me, this is about my children,” he says. “I feel what she has done is essentially denied them knowing half of who they are. It is not fair — it is simply not fair.”

Having lost his own father to cancer when he was only 17, Gherbetti, now 41, says he is only too aware of how important it is for children to have both parents in their lives.

“I know what it is to struggle without a father — to make your way in this life without the competence and guidance of a father. It made me realize that if I am ever in the position where I have children, I just want to emulate what he was able to give me. He was a very good man — a good father.”

 

Treaty is step in right direction, but won’t aid many kids, parents

There are currently 34 Canadian parents listed as having lost access to their children after a Japanese spouse unilaterally took the kids to Japan, according to the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. This number does not include Canadians resident in Japan who have lost contact with their children within the country.

Figures for the United States are much higher, with 100 American left-behind parents fighting to see their children as of January, according to the U.S. State Department.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo reports an additional 31 cases in which both parents and the children reside in Japan but one parent has been denied access.

Yet “parental child abduction” is not just a problem for foreign spouses of Japanese. Untold numbers of children of Japanese marriages never get to know both parents.

Japan is the only G-7 member nation that hasn’t signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a treaty designed to protect the rights of child victims of international abduction by returning them to their place of habitual residence.

Earlier this year Japan made a commitment to eventually ratify the treaty, and this is clearly a step in the right direction, but for many victims of the country’s much-criticized custody laws, it will be too little too late.

The treaty only covers cross-border cases of child abduction and will do nothing to help children spirited away within Japan or the left-behind parents who want to be part of their lives.

In addition, the convention will not be applied retroactively, so it won’t alleviate the suffering of thousands of children already abducted to Japan who have no contact with their foreign parent. (Simon Scott)

 

Gherbetti believes his wife is a good mother and loves their children very much, but he doesn’t understand how she can deny them access to a person in their life who is critical to their development — namely, their father.

“There are definitely things I can bring to the table — as a male, as a father, and as a Westerner even — that are relevant and useful, I’m sure, for these children,” he says.

“The kids might want to talk to me about things that they are experiencing. ‘Maybe I’ll just talk to Dad about this situation and see what he has to say about this’ — rudimentary stuff but, that said, crucial to the emotional well-being and development of a child.”

Gherbetti acknowledges that he doesn’t know his estranged wife’s motives for denying him the right to play a part in his children’s lives, because she refuses to communicate with him, but he suspects that, beyond feelings of bitterness relating to the breakup of their marriage, they hold different values regarding the importance both parents can play in a child’s upbringing.

“I think there is a cultural issue at play here,” he says. “When the marriage fails, as far as I understand it, in Japan, traditionally access and contact with the left-behind parent is viewed as an inconvenience. It is so completely different from our Western philosophies — that children have the right to know both their parents, a right to know their whole family.”

Armed with only the old address of his wife’s family home and a lot of faith, Gherbetti made the journey from Tokyo up to Fukushima to seek out his kids. Prior to being reunited with his children, Gherbetti described his motivation for the surprise visit.

“I would simply like for the children to realize that I am still alive. I don’t know what they have been told. I don’t know what they believe or what they know at this point. I just want to arrive and give them the opportunity to see that I am here.”

Attempts by left-behind parents to reunite with their children in Japan are rarely successful and sometimes result in arrest for the alienated parent, particularly if they attempt to retake custody of their children.

In 2009, U.S. citizen Christopher Savoie was arrested and imprisoned in Fukuoka when he attempted to retrieve his two abducted children while they were walking to school. Savoie, who had been awarded legal custody of the children in the United States before their abduction to Japan, attempted to take them to the U.S. consulate in Fukuoka but was arrested by Japanese police outside the gates. He was detained for two weeks and released without charge, but never regained custody of his children.

Gherbetti says he has no intention of trying to take back his children and is not even seeking custody. He just wants to visit them from time to time and to communicate with them on a regular basis via telephone or Skype — something his wife will not allow him to do.

 

News photo
Gherbetti holds up a note apparently written by his 6-year-old daughter, handed to him by his eldest daughter during their brief reunion. SIMON SCOTT

 

Gherbetti’s wife was not at home on the day of his surprise visit to Fukushima, and his children were at home with their extended family, which he suspects may have been why things went so smoothly. Also fortuitously, his 6-year-old daughter was playing in the backyard when he arrived at the house.

He called out to her, and when she came over he passed a bunch of flowers to her across the fence, but — overwhelmed and confused after seeing her father for the first time in two years — she quickly ran back inside.

“Seeing me brought forward a flood of emotions that she probably couldn’t deal with at her 6-year-old age,” he says. “She was only 4 when she was abducted, so there is some confusion.”

She didn’t reappear in person, but Gherbetti’s eldest daughter delivered a note from the 6-year-old just before the visit ended.

“I think (she) was able to express her feelings the best way she knew how, and whether or not she or (her older sister) wrote the note, the expression is clear: ‘Dady Love’ — I love my daddy.”

Getting to see his three children again after over two years, even if only for a short moment, means the world to Gherbetti, and it has reaffirmed his commitment to his children despite the uncertain future.

“The hug . . . and the note . . . have provided me the fuel required to see this journey on to the end,” he says. “I’m willing to do anything and everything to reconnect with my children.”

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GPS Tracking / Locator for Children – Track your children


Kidnapping and Parental Abduction

ABP World Group™ will return with updated information about recommended GPS trackers during July 2015. Stay tuned. For more information about GPS trackers, send us an email: contact@abpworld.com

Parental child abduction – We offer needed support
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GPS Locator For Children Trackers

These days all of us are extremely busy and your teens are no different. It can make you crazy trying to keep track of them and their schedules, so what’s a frazzled parent to do?

You definitely want to know where they are at all times, but how can you keep track of them without constantly calling their cell phone (a recipe sure to put you on bad terms). How will you know if something happens to your teen or if they are in trouble of some sort?

GPS Trackers for Children – Top 10 GPS Tracker for Kids Reviews 2015

For years, parents have been limited to traditional methods of keeping track of their children‘s movements: standing in the playground, watching from the window, or asking them to phone home when they visit a friend’s house. But now anxious mothers and fathers are being offered a distinctly hi-tech method of monitoring their child’s every movement – tracking them by satellite. Relatives can receive text messages about the watch’s location direct from the device, pinpointing the street address of their youngster at the touch of a button.

It’s true that a cell phone is great to improve the safety of your teen, but what if they aren’t near the cell phone or possibly don’t want you to know where they are going. There is a solution and that is a GPS tracker for your teen and their car.

Read: Can a GPS prevent Parental Child Abductions?

There are two very good reasons to install a GPS tracking device in your teens car. The first is to track the vehicle in case of theft and the second is to ensure the safety of your teen.

Teens are notorious for underestimating the danger in many situations and they can often get themselves into trouble without even knowing how. You know about the likely dangers your teen might encounter, but getting them to listen to you (and believe you) is often an exercise in futility. So, you sit at home nights praying that your teen gets home safely. With a GPS tracking device installed in your teens car the need for you to worry is dramatically decreased.

You can keep track of where they are, where they are going and when you can expect them to arrive back home. Best of all, if they do not come home on time you can contact the police and have them easily track down the car, perhaps saving your teen from danger and harm.

There are various technologies that can help protect children, ranging from devices that send out a local alarm that can be heard from a couple hundred feet away, to very sophisticated dedicated GPS tracking devices.

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Norwegian/Maltese Child Abduction -Maltese father wins child ‘abduction’ case


Friday, 4th February 2011

Toddler to stay with dad after mum claims abduction

The young son of a couple who met on the internet will remain in Malta with his Maltese father after a court dismissed his Norwegian mother’s claim he had been abducted.

Madam Justice Anna Felice ruled the island was the child’s habitual residence after the couple had travelled to Malta intending to establish their residence here.

The child’s parents met over the internet in 2008 and the mother travelled to Malta and remained here until January the following year. On her return to Norway she discovered she was pregnant and the father moved to Norway to be with her.

Following the birth of the child in September 2009, the father found out the mother had another child from a previous marriage. This child had been removed from her care and placed in a foster home, the court heard.

The second child was born suffering from withdrawals from the medication the mother used to take and the Norwegian Social Services intervened. This led to both parents fearing the child would be taken away from them and they decided to leave Norway and come to Malta when the child was only a few days old.

They immediately had the child registered as a Maltese national and established a home together. However, their relationship ended last year and the father was awarded care and custody of the child in January 2010. The mother returned to Norway.

Claiming the father had abducted the child, she submitted a request to the Department for Standards in Social Protection for the child to be returned to Norway.

The father argued that, as he and the mother had come to Malta when their son was only a few days old intending to establish their residence here, this was not a case of child abduction.

The Family Court heard that, in terms of the Hague Convention on child abduction, no court was obliged to order the return of a child if the contesting parent had consented to the child travelling. Nor was the court obliged to order the return if this could expose the child to physical or psychological danger.

Madam Justice Felice noted it resulted from the evidence the couple had intended to establish their residence here and that this country constituted the child’s habitual residence. It also resulted that the mother suffered from mental illness and that her state of health was poor.

The court, therefore, refused the mother’s request to order the return of the child to Norway.

Source: Times Of Malta

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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