How Family Court cases like Wylie vs Wylie provoke fugitive parents


October 6 , 2014

Source: The Australian

Some women who feel betrayed by the Family Court resort to desperate measures. 

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WE had dinner in May 2013, almost a year before the abduction.

Over pasta and salad she said there were dark and terrible things I needed to know about the matter of Wylie v Wylie, the pseudonymous title the Family Court of Australia gave its published judgments in one of the most bitter and complex cases in its 38-year history. “Ms Wylie” was bright, well-spoken and tortured by the belief that her husband, “Mr Wylie”, was sexually abusing their six-year-old twin daughters. She asked if I could help her. I could not.

On June 7, 2013, Family Court judge Justice Peter Tree, “after eight days of trial before me of fiercely contested competing parenting applications relating to the parties’ six-year-old twin girls”, ordered that Mr Wylie have sole parental responsibility for the major long-term care of his children and that Ms Wylie ask her GP for referral to a psychiatrist. “I am satisfied, on the material before me, that the concerns which inevitably would otherwise have flowed from the mother’s notice of abuse, have been sufficiently addressed by the evidence,” said Justice Tree.

That evidence included documents detailing the outcome of an investigation conducted by the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Child Safety into Ms Wylie’s child abuse ­allegations against her husband that found: “Nil physical evidence of sexual abuse indicated through medical examination; nil verbal reports from the children of abuse over four interviews with QPS and Child Safety; verbal report from [one twin] to QPS and Child Safety citing coaching from her mother to make statements.”

On February 14 this year, Ms Wylie sent me a 1549-word email: “I have now seen two psychiatrists, four psychologists and a victims-of-crime counsellor who have all said that I am sane. The father and the Family Court believe I am not, so I just keep being sent to another mental health professional. I believe that this will keep happening until one of them says what the court wants to hear.

“Everything is being done by those who should be protecting my children to protect their abuser, and [the twins] are still forced to live with him.

“One in four children are sexually abused. Only one in 100 pedophiles see the inside of a prison cell. It is not because children aren’t talking, it is that they aren’t believed, and, more often than not, if their abuser is their father, he is given custody.”

On April 1, Ms Wylie sent a message to me that was also sent to Acting Inspector Craig Weatherley of the Queensland Police Child Safety and Sexual Crime Group: “I have tried and tried to have faith that the people who are paid to protect my children would do so. This situation needs to be made very public. It is ­horrifying on so many levels.”

On April 3, Ms Wylie emailed me a photograph of one of her girls. She was smiling, in a red dress, wearing the same kind of purple angel wings that my own seven-year-old daughter wears on occasion. “This is a photo of [her] BEFORE she started bleeding from her rectum and contracting another vaginal infection,” Ms Wylie wrote. “Painfully thin, eyes sunken in her head, and apparently absolutely no need for concern in regards to how well she is being ‘cared’ for. Can you imagine what state she is in now? They say a picture says a thousand words. This is the reality of her life right now.”

Child-abduction

The next day, April 4, Mr Wylie dropped his girls at the gate of the school they attend. It was between 8.30am and 8.40am, the last day of school before the Easter holidays. He watched his daughters walk 30m from the car to the school gate, amid the usual chaos of school drop-off; kids running left and right, parents zipping back and forth. His eyes zeroed in on his children and he said to himself, “Gee, they’re getting big those girls.”

Sometime between entering the school gate and the sound of the morning bell, the girls vanished. The Family Court issued a media release that spread across the country: “Fugitive mother of two [Ms Wylie] remains on the run more than a week after she is believed to have abducted her twin daughters from their … primary school. By now, she could quite literally be ­anywhere in Australia.

“The suspected abduction is unlawful and in breach of Family Court orders which [Ms Wylie] consented to … It is inevitable that someone has seen the trio in their travels, and may even know their present whereabouts. Any assistance knowingly provided to a criminal to avoid punishment is itself a serious crime.

“Their father is deeply concerned and desperately seeking public help.”

Ms Wylie was issued one of the 520 recovery orders made by the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court in the past year, orders that Chief Justice Diana Bryant calls a “last resort” when parents don’t voluntarily return children, or take them on the run.

I went back over the emails Ms Wylie had sent me throughout the past year and my thoughts kept returning to her message of April 1, three days before the abduction. Her desperate course was mapped in two lines. “I have had enough of playing nice,” she wrote. “Following the rules does not work.”

I’m looking at Mr Wylie as he’s talking, ­telling me what it feels like to be a father of two kids still on the run with their mother, five long months after they disappeared. I’m studying his teeth, his hair, his skin and his speech to make foolish and unqualified gut assessments about whether or not he speaks the truth. He will get this for the rest of his life and he knows it. The stain of the allegation. “You have your best friends asking you outright, ‘Tell me now, did you do it or not?’” he says.

He cries when he says this, screws his face up, grits his teeth. The thought has a physical impact on him. “They want to help but they don’t want to be put in a position where they’re supporting someone who is a child abuser.

“One police officer said to me, ‘It’s the easiest allegation to make but the hardest one to prove and if you hate someone enough, that would be the way to go.’”

He pulls a small red rental car into a carpark on Brisbane’s suburban northside, where police have had unconfirmed sightings of Ms Wylie and her two daughters. “We used to live here,” he says. “She knows the area well.”

He pops his boot, takes a block of A4 posters marked, “ABDUCTED/MISSING $10,000 REWARD. For information leading to the location of missing 7-year-old non-identical twins… abducted by non-custodial parent in breach of court orders”. His girls beam in school uniform photos, one daughter missing her two front teeth. He sticks the posters to light poles, public noticeboards; hands them out to strangers.

“I came back to school at 3pm that afternoon to pick them up,” he says. “There were kids coming out and one little girl with her dad says to me, ‘What’s wrong with [one of the twins]? She wasn’t at school today.’ I thought she was just confused.

“Then I went in to where they wait to be picked up and there was no one there. I went up to their classroom and the teacher came out and said, ‘They haven’t been here all day.’” He shakes his head. “That’s not good.”

Tears fill his eyes again. “They found her car and the kids’ uniforms and school bags abandoned in the car about five minutes away from the school,” he says. “I don’t know whether she was waiting there, but, obviously, there’s been a changeover of cars.”

He shows me the text message he sent her immediately that afternoon: “Call me urgently.”

“I knew immediately it was [her]. I thought it was almost inevitable. She was getting to the end of the line. In terms of trying to push that line she was going with. There was no further way she could push it through the court. The only thing that was left for her was to take them.”

Mr Wylie met Ms Wylie in a public gym. They married in 2000, bought and renovated and sold houses in the property boom, travelled and worked through Europe. Their twin girls were born through IVF in 2007, when Mr Wylie was establishing his own small business.

“We had arguments,” he says. “We’d had a bit of conflict — mortgages, business debts. It was the usual thing, money. She had her ideas on business, I had mine. We had differences in parenting. We were fighting after the girls had gone to bed. Eventually I said we should split up.”

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And the war began. Fights over debt, fights over houses, legal fights over custody arrangements, accusations of domestic violence. Then Mr Wylie received a text message from Ms Wylie: “You need to talk to the Department of Child Safety, they’ve got some concerns.” A mandatory report had been made to the department alleging, Mr Wylie says, that one of the twins made a disclosure to an occupational ­therapist: “Daddy hurts me down here.”

A departmental “Assessment of Harm and Risk of Harm”, however, later determined that “the children are at risk of emotional harm as a result of the allegations being made that their father is sexually harming them. Their mother has advised that she was sexually abused as a child and believes that [Mr Wylie] is doing exactly the same things to her daughters. A parent who has been harmed as a child is more likely to display harmful parenting patterns relating to what they were subjected to themselves as a child.

“There is previous child protection history in relation to [Ms Wylie] alleging the girls were being sexually harmed by their father. The outcome of this investigation was Unsubstantiated as [the twin] advised that the rash was caused by her underpants being too tight.

“[Ms Wylie] appears to be experiencing a high degree of stress as a result of her relationship breakdown with [Mr Wylie].”

Mr Wylie sips water at a small cafe before setting off to walk the streets handing out ­pictures of his girls. “It’s vigilantism,” he says. “It’s laughing in the face of the law.”

He looks down at one of his reward leaflets. “The hardest thing to think about is the stuff they’re experiencing right now,” he says. “The fear, the anxiety, the ideas being put into their heads: ‘Daddy’s not safe.’”

In the five months she’s been on the run, somewhere across Australia, Ms Wylie’s story has spilled from the courts into the slaughterhouse of the internet. One men’s rights website has dubbed her a “child abuser, child abductor, fugitive, feminist”. A “Friends of…” website, on the other hand, lists testimonials about Ms Wylie’s character from family and friends, including Professor Ros Thorpe, emeritus professor of social work at James Cook University and president of the Family Inclusion Network Townsville, which considers the interests of both children and ­parents in the child ­protection process.

Almost a year ago, Ms Wylie made an aside to Thorpe, her friend. “It might come to the point where I might have to take off with them,” Ms Wylie said.

“I said to her, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea because the consequences for you will be bad,’” says Thorpe. “I was shocked [but] I wasn’t ­surprised because she’s been tortured by this. I don’t think she’s mentally unbalanced at all. She has no psychopathology. She’s not crazy.”

Thorpe and her long-time friend Dr Freda Briggs AO, emeritus professor in child development at the University of South Australia, had been staunch advocates for Ms Wylie prior to the abduction. They believed her, heart and soul. They still do. They’ve called for a reinvestigation of the case, saying key witnesses — including family members who allege to have heard direct disclosures of abuse by the girls — were not interviewed during the harrowing investigations and court hearings.

Briggs is working on multiple cases of ­mothers who feel betrayed by the Family Court. “Why would these mums give up their jobs, their homes, their positions, their support ­networks and flee with their children if it wasn’t something serious? They are taking the children into hiding to protect them from the parent and the Family Court.”

Briggs analysed interview transcripts from the Wylie case and claimed “inappropriate questioning of the children” by police. “How does a police inspector know what language would have been developmentally appropriate for kids aged four and five?” she says. “It requires great sensitivity and special skill in interviewing young children. You need a child-­focused environment and you are required to spend a great deal of time with the child. Those children were interviewed all over the place, in police stations and in the school office. The police said the father… was safe and that he would never do anything to harm them. No responsible professional would make such a statement because no one can be sure what went on in that home.”

Mr Wylie counters: “Their argument is, ‘Police bullied the kids, they’re not experts in child development.’ Well, the Child Protection and Investigation Unit is specifically tasked with dealing with these issues and questioning these kids. Officers from Brisbane were flown up to interview the kids again, for the fourth time after this complaint was made. These were the best of the best, the head of all the CPI units in Queensland brought his senior detective up, the one who trains all the other CPI detectives. And it was exactly the same outcome. And then the supporters are like, ‘Well, it’s obvious the father is coaching them.’

“That’s what I put to Freda Briggs. I mapped it all out and I said, ‘What more possible investigation could there be?’ ”

Briggs says the case ­highlights a growing problem within Australian family law. “The Family Court was set up for divorces,” she says. “It was not set up for child abuse cases.

“These situations happen so frequently that now family lawyers and the women’s legal services advise the mothers to not tell the Family Court about child abuse because you are likely to be labelled as delusional or malicious and you become the bad parent. The focus goes on the mother and the mother loses the child.

“What we would really like is to be able to get child abuse cases out of the Family Court or ensure that judges or participants are experts in child development and child abuse which, currently, they are not.”

When he retired from the Parramatta Family Court last year, seasoned judge Justice David Collier made a rare public statement about an increase in accusations of child abuse in hostile cases. “I’m satisfied that a number of people who have appeared before me have known that it is one of the ways of completely shutting ­husbands out of the child’s life,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s a horrible weapon.”

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Alastair Nicholson was Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia from 1988 to 2004. “I have a lot of time for David Collier but I wouldn’t put it as strongly as that,” he says. “I think, on the other hand, these fights get very bitter and you certainly will get some cases where that will happen. Of course, the real risk anyone takes who makes a false allegation is that if you make false allegations, and knowingly do so, the court’s very likely to say, ‘Well, you’re really not fit to be a parent of the child because you’ve been prepared to use the child in this way.’ So it may all go very pear-shaped from that person’s point of view. To say nothing of the child.”

A separate specialist court to process such matters is not the answer, according to ­Nicholson. “There’s only so far you can go with this specialist concept,” he says. “You’d go crazy ­hearing these cases all the time. The judge does. You have to have a break from it. I’d be very ­worried about the effect of having a specialist court just dealing with these cases.”

He welcomes, however, a broader system that better connects the long-disconnected ­systems of state and commonwealth. “It’s pie-in-the-sky stuff, but I’ve long thought that instead of having state child protection courts and the federal family court with a child protection capacity, there should be one system throughout Australia because, otherwise, it really doesn’t work very well. There’s more co-operation than there used to be but it’s still not an ideal system.”

Either way, he says, and “despite the determination of individuals, there has to be a stop somewhere” — meaning a legal decision that all parties must live with.

“It is, of course, easy to make an allegation,” Nicholson says. “Of course, you get some outright liars, but in my experience there were a lot of cases where a suspicion had arisen and the person becomes convinced that the suspicion is reality. They’ll blame the systems, they’ll blame the experts, and you always have that ­terrible feeling, ‘Well, maybe they have got it right.’ It’s one of those things that you lie awake at night about.”

Dad, I am so angry right now. I cannot believe that my own father would lie to me for my whole life and just pretend like everything is OK … I will not wait any longer for my psychopathic father to tell the truth. I have already given you more than 10 years … I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t been destroyed by your lies. You NEED TO GET HELP NOW. Don’t end your life living with a lie. Make the most of the rest of your life and get help. You are a very special person to me, make sure you remember that. I will never stop loving you but I absolutely HATE your behaviour.

Abbey [surname withheld]

That is an edited letter written by a 14-year-old West Australian girl to her father in December 2010. In May last year, Abbey ­disclosed to her mother that her father sexually assaulted her repeatedly between the ages of three and seven. In November last year, Abbey took her own life, aged 17.

In 2002, Abbey’s father was charged with the sexual assault of Abbey’s best friend when she was seven. It would take Abbey years to disclose that she, too, had been assaulted by her father with her best friend on regular sleepovers.

In 2005, her father was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, released on parole after two years. Upon his release, despite protestations from Abbey’s mother, the father was granted access visits with his three children by the Family Court of Western Australia. “In my attempts to protect my children, I was treated as a hysterical woman by the Family Court, even though [the father] had been charged with child sexual offences at the time,” Abbey’s mother says. “I was made to look like a vindictive wife instead of what I was, a protective mother.”

She has called on the state government to launch an inquest into her daughter’s death. Meanwhile, national child protection advocate Bravehearts has launched Abbey’s Project in her daughter’s name, calling for and recording exhaustive statements from Australians who have experienced “instances where deficiencies in the Family Court practices, policies and procedures have resulted in children being assaulted and placed at serious risk of sexual harm”, ­culminating in a report to be submitted to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston hopes the project will be “the precursor for a much larger and broader inquiry into the operations of the Family Court of Australia and related child protection organisations and institutions”. She says: “Every week in Australia, the Family Courts are ordering children into contact with, and even into the custody of parents who are dangerous, toxic and abusive because Family Courts do not have the powers, expertise and resources to competently investigate allegations of child abuse.”

Court-ordered contact with her father left a pre-teen Abbey deeply confused, says her mother, seeding the anorexia and self-loathing that plagued her teens. “I know why [Ms Wylie] is running,” says Abbey’s mother. “Because she’s alone. It makes you feel sick. For 10 years I have felt sick. All I was trying to do was protect my kids through the Family Court but I was so alone. No one heard me. And now Abbey’s dead.

“I know why mothers run. I wish I had run myself. Abbey would still be here.”

Ms Wylie’s parents live on a sprawling Queensland cattle property. It keeps them busy; keeps their minds off thoughts about where on Earth their daughter and grandchildren might be. They say their daughter is a resourceful woman, as at home in a tent by a creek bed as she is in a plush hotel suite.

The couple has been receiving counselling through the past five months. “I worry where they are,” Ms Wylie’s mum says. “Are they OK? It gets cold and I think, ‘Are they warm enough?’ I know they’ll be happy with their mother though. She will spend her time trying to make them happy.”

Family Court of Australia Chief Justice Diana Bryant has a far grimmer picture in her head. “Abduction of children always has a detrimental impact on the children,” she says. “First, there is the removal from familiar surroundings, school, friends and family, and especially the other parent. Then there is the subterfuge and hiding and often the adoption of false identities. Children may also be kept away from school to avoid detection.

“In order to live in this situation and where children are old enough to ask questions, a regime of denigration and rejection of the other parent is often necessary to justify the circumstances. This is likely to have a long-term detrimental psychological impact on the children.

“Once located, the possibility that the children could be removed from the abducting ­parent will also be traumatic for them. When a parent abducts a child and goes into hiding, the children will inevitably be harmed and will always be the losers in these situations.”

“The grandparents want the children to live with them,” says Briggs, referring to the Wylie case. “It’s not going to happen, is it? He’ll get the kids back and she’ll go to jail.”

“What do you mean, ‘What if he is innocent?’ ” asks Professor Thorpe. “You mean, ‘How would I react?’ Well, I would find it very hard to believe and accept, just as his supporters find it hard to believe that he has abused the girls.”

Every day, meanwhile, Ms Wylie’s parents finish their day’s work on the farm and then go inside and wait by the phone for news of their daughter. The only way they can communicate with her is through news pieces such as this. “Take care,” her dad says. “And we love you.”

Sometimes the phone rings late in the night, wakes them up. “Hello?” her dad says. “Hello?”

But there’s no response. Only silence.

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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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There were 64 cases of children being abducted from Ireland last year


September 12 , 2014

Source: thejournal.ie

THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE dealt with 109 new cases of child abduction last year, 45 relating to children entering the country and 64 leaving.

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The department acts as the Central Authority for International Child Abduction and its annual report says that, in total, they dealt with 208 new cases last year.

This total also includes cases of  care orders and access applications as well as international child placements.

Including ongoing cases, the authority dealt with a total of 346 cases in 2013.

The abductions related primarily to suspected parental child abductions according to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

“Parental child abduction is a growing problem globally reflecting the greater mobility of people around the world and all the consequences of this,” she said today.

Ireland is no different and it is important that we are proactive in working with central authorities in other states in resolving complaints regarding international parental child abductions where they arise.

About half of the cases dealt with last year related to abductions to or from the United Kingdom.

Of the 138 ongoing cases of child abduction, 51 were incoming and 87 were outgoing.

Upon the publication of the report, Fitzgerald said that she hoped many cases could be resolved by families themselves but added that, in most cases, legal remedies are required.

“The resolution of issues around parental child abduction is usually by international law,” she said. “But I would encourage any family to try to resolve their differences before such situations arise and avail of the services available to mediate solutions in the best interest of the children and all those involved.”

Fitzgerald advised families that the Family Mediation Service in the Legal Aid Board can help families reach agreement without having to resort to court.

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Disturbing figures reveal Greater Manchester had almost twice the national rate of child abductions and kidnappings


September 10, 2014

Source: manchestereveningnews.co.uk

Police investigated 46 abductions and 20 kidnappings of children across the region between April 2013 and March this year.

Crying-child

GMP investigated 46 abductions and 20 kidnappings of children across the region between April 2013 and March this year.

Greater Manchester had nearly twice the national average rate of child abductions and kidnappings last year, the M.E.N. can reveal.

Police investigated 46 abductions and 20 kidnappings of children across the region between April 2013 and March this year.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act by charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT), show that in 2013/14, GMP recorded 2.4 incidents of the crimes for every 100,000 people. The national average is 1.3.

There were seven incidents where parents abducted their children. Parental abduction often happens when the couples separate or begin divorce proceedings.

Figures show that more than two children, on average, were abducted or kidnapped every day in England in 2013/14.

The statistics – from 36 out of 39 police forces – show that there were 504 child abductions and 302 child kidnappings between April 2013 and March 2014. In 30 per cent of child abduction cases, the child was abducted by a parent.

Further figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of child abductions across England and Wales rose in 2013/14 for the first time since 2004/05; from 513 to 569 – an 11pc increase.

Child abduction is the act of taking a child away from their family, carer or person who has lawful control of the child without consent or lawful justification. Kidnap is similar, but the child is usually imprisoned.

Stockport MP Ann Coffey, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said: “These figures for Greater Manchester are very disturbing. It must be terrifying for a child to experience abduction or kidnapping. Everything possible must be done to return missing children as quickly as possible.

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“We clearly need to find out the reason why Greater Manchester appears to have a higher number of abductions and kidnappings than some other areas, because it’s not clear to me why that is.”

Geoff Newiss, director of research at PACT said the figures only paint half the picture, with many abductions, particularly by parents, going unreported.

He added: “These new figures illustrate that Greater Manchester is not immune from the problem of abduction. Abduction covers a broad range of offences, including custody disputes, grooming offences, stranger sexual abuse and revenge attacks.

“A number – of all types – of abduction are not reported to the police.”

Commenting on the findings, Detective Superintendent Jon Chadwick, from GMP, said: “Although the figures are higher the national average, the number is still very small within a county that holds a population of just under three million people.

“However, protecting the children of Greater Manchester is one of the Force’s priorities and we take all reports of child abduction seriously, thoroughly investigating each case.”

Charity’s schemes will help protect children

Charity bosses are raising awareness of abduction and kidnap figures to highlight two new resources to protect children – the UK Child Abduction Hub and Child Rescue Alert.

Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT) and Missing People are urging people to make use of the services, with abduction rates rising for the first time since 2004/5.

The UK Abduction Hub, set up with cash from the People’s Postcode Lottery, gives information and advice on child abduction.

Child Rescue Alert allows anyone to sign up to receive free alerts – by text, email or via social media – if a child is taken in their area.

Kate McCann, mother of missing Madeleine, launched the new Child Rescue Alert on International Missing Children’s Day earlier this year.

katemcann

Kate McCann (left), mother of Madeleine McCann, and Coral Jones, mother of April Jones, at the launch of the new Child Rescue Alert earlier this year

Bosses say abduction comes in many different forms, of varying severity, and that government statistics do not provide the level of detail required to fully illustrate the risks.

The new services, they say, could save a vulnerable child’s life and are aimed at making sure every family across the fact knows the facts about abduction and kidnap.

 

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NSU Law Professor Recognized by U.S. Department of State


August 29 , 2014

Source: PRnewswire.com

Tim Arcaro recognized for his efforts in assisting parents of abducted children.

FORT LAUDERDALEDAVIE, Fla., Aug. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — NSU Shepard Broad Law Center Professor and Associate Dean Tim Arcaro, J.D., has been formally recognized by the U.S. Department of State for his work on the Hague Convention Attorney Network. Arcaro’s work involved representing parents attempting to recover children who have been internationally parentally abducted from South Florida, or who may be targets of international parental abduction.

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Beth Payne, director, Office of Children’s Issues, United States Central Authority for the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction issued a certificate of appreciation thanking Dean Arcaro for generously donating his legal services in assisting parents and for contributing to the effective operation of the Hague Convention in the United States. Arcaro also received commendations from Patricia Hoff, legal assistance coordinator for the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Dean Arcaro’s participation in the Hague Convention Attorney Network underscores his commitment to addressing this fundamental human rights issue and to the South Florida community,” said Jon Garon, JD., dean of NSU’s Law Center. “Parental abduction is a growing issue in the U.S. and there is a tremendous need for attorneys with training and commitment similar to Tim’s. I applaud him and each of our faculty members here at the Law Center who give of themselves in service to our community. Tim’s work reflects the fundamental values our faculty, student, and staff embrace at NSU and the Shepard Broad Law Center.”

The Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues actively seeks lawyers who are willing to participate and assist parents involved in international family law and child abduction cases. By joining the Department of State’s Hague Convention Attorney Network, attorneys provide the critical assistance necessary to navigate through the legal system with a view toward obtaining the return of the child and, in a proper case, to make arrangements for organizing or securing the effective exercise of rights of access. More information on the program can be obtained by visiting http://bit.ly/1wmRwjJ .

Arcaro is a graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has been admitted to the Florida and Pennsylvania bars, as well as the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Arcaro has been a member of the Law Center’s faculty since 1994. After serving as a clinical instructor in the Civil Law Clinic, he was appointed Director of the Children and Family Law Clinic in 1998. He became director of the Master of Science in Health Law Program in 2003, and served in that capacity until being appointed director of the Master of Science in Education Law Program in 2005. Professor Arcaro teaches both online and on-site courses, including Administrative Law, Professional Responsibility, International Human Rights, and Immigration Law.

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Arcaro has lectured extensively on professional responsibility, domestic violence, child advocacy, and developing clinical legal education programs. In addition to memberships in local, state and national bar associations, Arcaro also maintains professional memberships in numerous legal, clinical and educational associations, such as the Education Law Association, International Society for Technology in Education, National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and the Association of American Law Schools Clinical Legal Education section. He has served on the Florida Legal Aid Corporation’s Executive Board of Directors, the [Florida] Governor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence, and the Florida Coalition against Domestic Violence Legal Clearinghouse. Arcaro has received many awards in recognition of his service to both colleagues and the community, among them: the 2007 Faculty Professionalism Award from the Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism; Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year, from the Broward County Guardian Ad Litem Program; Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year, from the Broward Legal Aid Service, Inc.; and Pro Bono Recognition from the Broward Lawyers Care (Broward County Bar Association).

About the Shepard Broad Law Center: Nova Southeastern University’s Law Center offers a rigorous traditional academic program in three-year day and four-year evening versions, as well as dual-degree programs. Additionally, NSU Law offers three online Master of Science degrees in law in the areas of education, employment, and health. NSU Law prides itself on preparing graduates to make a smooth transition from the classroom to the courtroom or boardroom. Lawyering Skills and Values (LSV)-Every student completes a four-semester LSV sequence that combines traditional legal reasoning, writing, and research with an introduction to lawyer interviewing, counseling, negotiating, mediating, advocating, and other critical skills in a simulated law firm experience. For more information please visit http://www.nsulaw.nova.edu/

About Nova Southeastern University: Situated on 314 beautiful acres in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic fully accredited research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels.  NSU is a not-for-profit independent institution with 27,000 students. NSU awards associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields. NSU is classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and it is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification. For more information, please visit www.nova.eduCelebrating 50 years

 

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International Parental Child Abduction – Child Recovery Services, a necessary evil?


January 23, 2014

“We agree with some of the systems governments have in place to prevent and fight these family disputes, they do work on many different levels and in some cases have great results.

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We only exist to help those who have been effected by the failures within the system, mainly due to a conflict in laws or procedures from other governments. These flaws can prevent a parent from any access to their children and even lock them out of pursuing a court case.

Desperate parents turn to us only because they have no where else to turn. We find that it is our responsibility to help those who have no one else to turn to. We do our best in helping these families but we are not miracle workers, sometimes we fail due to difficult circumstances but no one can match the numbers of abducted children that we have achieved to bring home safely during the last 12 years.
«After all my years of experience as Worldwide Medical Director for the worlds largest medical assistance company, I found only ABP World Group capable of providing the unique service of non-violent recovery of an abducted child»
It is very difficult to find a company like ABP World that can provide the experience, honesty, integrity, and assets to actually recover an abducted child safely and at a reasonable cost. I hold ABP World in highest regard and recommend them wholeheartedly. The world is simply a better place because of the work they do. – R. Weston

ABP World Group 4

It is understandable that some concerns are raised about parents using a private security firm, the majority of these parents have no other options left except give up their children and be at risk to never seeing them again. In the last 5 years parental abductions have risen dramaticly, the success of Hague applications is only 3-5%, and the actual success of courts enforcing the Hague applications is less.

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The tools that are in place are dated and need to be modernized to ensure a fair return of children to their place of origin so parents can mediate and do whats best for the actual victim, the children.

It is a great misconception that a child abducted by a parentis a safe child” – Martin Waage, ABP World Group

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New FCO figures show parental child abduction cases on the rise


December 17 , 2013

Source: www.gov.uk

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

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

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

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

Mark Simmonds, Minister for Consular Affairs, said:

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

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

Alison Shalaby, Chief Executive of Reunite, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to go for help

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

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

You can also email childabduction@fco.gov.uk

Further information

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

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

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

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

**Reunite figures, January 2013 – October 2013

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

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

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1-800-847-2315 US Toll free Number
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Parental Abduction – FBI’s Most Wanted For Parental Kidnappings


June 21, 2013

Source: FBI

Parental kidnapping or parental abduction is defined as the concealment, taking, or retention of a child by his parent in violation of the rights of the child’s other parent or another family member. Violated rights may include, for example, custody and visitation rights. Sadly, thousands of children are abducted by a parent and removed from the United States annually. Even more children are kidnapped by a parent within the confines of U.S. borders. Parental kidnapping also happens when a child is abducted from a custodial parent abroad and transported into the United States by the non-custodial parent illegally.

More Than Just a Custody Dispute

Make no mistake – parental kidnapping is illegal. Parental kidnapping is far more than a dispute regarding custody matters between divorcing parents. Such matters are relegated to the civil courts; however, parental kidnapping is a criminal act. In fact, parental kidnapping violates the laws of all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands, plus U.S. federal laws and international laws. It is dangerous and can be deadly.

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Parentally-abducted children live a life on the run as if fugitives. It is not uncommon to see a child receive a new name, nickname, haircut, dyed hair, glasses, or otherwise altered appearance. Children may be coached not to reveal their true names, birth dates, home states and addresses, and other identifying information. They may move often to avoid detection and recovery. School performance and social relationships suffer materially (that is, if the child is permitted to attend school). Even medical treatment may suffer because of requirements for identifying information involved in the registration for care and insurance claims processing.

Traumatic for Children

Parentally-abducted children are traumatized emotionally and psychologically, especially if they are brainwashed by the abducting parent to believe that the other parent no longer loves them or has died. Abducted children are truly innocent victims of their parents’ decisions and actions. Their relationships with other family members, perhaps even siblings and grandparents, are terminated, and their sense of family, belonging, and identity is compromised, if not lost entirely in the process.

What typically starts as a custody dispute balloons into a much larger tragedy with long-term and widespread impacts. Perhaps most tragic are the higher risk factors that abducted children face for severe psychological conditions such as reactive attachment disordergeneralized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder in both the short and long terms.

Parental abduction may seem a last resort and only remaining alternative to a parent fearful of an abusive situation involving the other parent, an international move instigated by the other parent, or even an unfavorable custody dispute playing out in the courts. Ultimately, working within the family court system to resolve custody matters within the confines of the law is preferable for preserving the well-being of all involved.

Parents Wanted for Parental Kidnappings

CHERE LYN TOMAYKO

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Parental Child Abductions: When Custody Issues Lead to Violence


June 7 , 2013

Source: FBI.gov

Child Abductions, When Custody Issues Lead to Violence

An analysis of recent FBI child abduction investigations has revealed a disturbing trend: Non-custodial parents are increasingly abducting and threatening to harm their own kids to retaliate against parents who were granted legal custody of the children.

Child Abuse

“Unfortunately, the threat of violence—and death—in these cases is all too real,” said Ashli-Jade Douglas, an FBI analyst in our Violent Crimes Against Children Intelligence Unit who specializes in child abduction matters. “ Most non-custodial parental abductors want retaliation. They feel that if they can’t have the child full time—or any amount of time—then the other parent shouldn’t have the child, either.”

An analysis of all FBI child abduction cases where a motivation was known shows that custodial-motivated abductions—in which a son or daughter is taken against the will of the child and the custodial parent—have increased from 9 percent in fiscal year 2010 to 50 percent in fiscal year 2012. Sometimes the motivation is to convince the custodial parent to stay in a relationship; more often it is to harm the child in an act of retaliation. This trend appears to be on the rise, Douglas said. At least 25 instances of such abductions have been reported to the FBI since October.

“Our analysis indicates that children age 3 years and younger of unwed or divorced parents are most at risk of being abducted by their non-custodial parent,” Douglas added. “And the timely reporting of the abduction by the custodial parent to law enforcement is crucial in increasing the likelihood of recovering the child unharmed and apprehending the offender.”

 Quick Reporting Key to Child Safety

There is a common misconception that domestic custodial child abductions are considered a family matter that should not be investigated by law enforcement. In fact, when such abductions are reported to law enforcement, the child should be considered to be in danger—especially in cases when the non-custodial parents have previously threatened to abduct or harm their children, are mentally disabled, or are unemployed or otherwise financially unstable.

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“The timely reporting of the abduction by the custodial parent to law enforcement is critical,” said Ashli-Jade Douglas, an analyst in our Violent Crimes Against Children Intelligence Unit. “That greatly increases the chances of recovering the child unharmed.”

Some recent cases include:

  • In 2009, a non-custodial mother abducted her 8-month-old son from his custodial father in Texas. She told the father she killed the boy to prevent the father from employing his custodial rights and in retaliation for his alleged involvement with other women.
  • In 2011, a 2-year-old girl was abducted by her non-custodial father in California. A week later, both were found dead. The father committed suicide after shooting his daughter.
  • In 2012, a non-custodial father in Utah abducted and killed his 7- and 5-year-old sons and then committed suicide. He was angry over not being afforded sole custody of the children.

“In contrast to international parental abductions, our analysis indicates that domestic custodial abductions are more likely to have violent outcomes for children,” Douglas explained, adding that a number of factors contribute to this trend. About 46 percent of American children are born to unwed parents, and 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. That usually leaves one parent with custody of the child.

Douglas offers a suggestion to help keep children safe: Custodial parents should inform schools, after-care facilities, babysitters, and others who may at times be responsible for their children about what custody agreements are in place so that kids are not mistakenly released to non-custodial parents.

“The other big takeaway from our analysis,” she added, “is that law enforcement must act quickly in non-custodial abductions to keep children from being harmed. It’s mind-boggling to think that a parent would hurt their child to retaliate against the other parent,” Douglas said, “but in that moment, they make themselves believe that it’s okay.”

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Summer holiday is the high season for International Parental Child Abduction.


May 28, 2013

Source: ABP World Group Ltd.

Every year, at the start of the school semester, ABP World Group are contacted by frantic parents who have had their child or children abducted while on holiday. ABP World Group provides advice on what to do if your children are abducted.

“It is a great misconception that a child abducted by a parent is a safe child” – Martin Waage, ABP World Group Ltd.

Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) May 28, 2013

Very often there is a parent who has had children with someone of foreign origin and has allowed a holiday trip to that parent’s homeland. But it also happens that parents abduct the children when on holiday abroad as visitation sabotage.

Sometimes the abduction happens as quick as a lightning bolt and when the other parent returns home, the house is empty. All these forms are defined as international child abduction, and have a maximum penalty up to 3 years in prison.

Many parents ask us for advice on how to prevent one parent from taking the child abroad on holiday. However, this is very difficult to prevent when the courts in many countries often do not take parental concerns seriously.

Child abductors are not penalized in their homeland, since The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction is only a vehicle for the return of children and does not deal with punishment. As few as 3 out of 10 children abducted return.

What should you do if your child is abducted? 

  • If you have evidence that the child has been abducted or held back after vacation, immediately contact a lawyer who has expertise in international child abduction.

•You can also get guidance by contacting ABP World Group.
•You must report the situation to both the police and the Ministry of Justice. (Ministry responsible for any claim for return under the Hague Convention).
•Time is of utmost importance, so you must work fast and focused. It is best if the police have initiated a quick inquiry before the abductor can leave the country with the child/children.
•It is also important to act quickly in terms of The Hague Convention.

Which parent abducts children?

Sociopath is an American term which is very close to what we define as antisocial personality disorder. These parents lack conscience, guilt and remorse, they are aggressive and have little respect for the norms, laws and regulations.

The U.S. study emphasizes sociopaths or antisocial personality disorder, but also parents with narcissistic, paranoid and borderline personality disorder are high risk for child abduction and visitation sabotage.

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020 3239 0013 United Kingdom

01 442 9322 Ireland

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