U.S. Court Refuses to Enforce Hague Convention


Source: Fathersandfamilies

April 1st, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

A New Zealand father has returned to the United States in a desperate effort to be reunited with his children who were abducted to the San Francisco Bay Area by his American wife. 

The abduction occurred three years ago, but, despite the fact that both the United States and New Zealand are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Cossey has been unsuccessful in getting more than supervised visitation with his children.  Read about it here (New Zealand Herald, 3/31/12).

Cossey and his wife met in the United States when he was here working.  They married, had two sons and eventually moved to New Zealand where they lived a comfortable life.  He worked; she was a stay-at-home mother.  But one day the couple had an argument that Cossey characterizes as very minor.  The next day he received a call at work.  It was his wife telling him she was leaving and taking the children.

She did just that, fleeing to Auckland and catching a plane to the U.S. that very night.

Cossey filed the appropriate claim in New Zealand requesting the return of his children, but nothing happened.  Officials in neither country managed to enforce the provisions of the convention to which both countries were parties.

Eventually, at wits end, Cossey returned to the United States just so he could have some contact with his children.  Apparently he still had a visa allowing him to work, so he’s done that while trying to assert his parental rights in family court.

“Thankfully I am able to legally reside in the US permanently, otherwise I would have lost all contact with my children by now,” he says.

It hasn’t been easy.  So far he gets the one-size-fits-all custody arrangement – i.e. she has custody, he has visitation two days out of two weeks, except he can’t see his kids without supervision.  Why?  You know the answer without my telling you.

His estranged wife has also filed charges of domestic violence and sexual molestation of the boys against him – allegations he calls “ridiculous”. His wife did not return calls from APNZ.

Simple as that.  The Hague Convention requires signatory countries to return children within 60 days of the filing of a complaint.  I’ve complained many times about the behavior of, for example Mexico, due to its frank refusal to comply with the Convention it signed.  But here’s a case in which the United States is doing the same thing.

Of course it is.  In this country, mere allegations of child abuse or domestic violence are sufficient to take a father out of his child’s life at least for a time.  In Cossey’s case it’s been three years and counting with the exception of the supervised visits.  Is there a single shred of evidence to support his wife’s claims?  If there is, the article doesn’t mention it, and she let her opportunity to make her case in print go by.

But as we know, and as Cossey has certainly learned, family courts don’t need evidence to take a father from a child.  What we also know is that child abduction is itself a form of child abuse, and it’s pretty clear that Cossey’s kids have experienced just that.

It was a tearful first reunion, he says. “The kids didn’t know what was going on. The entire event was pretty traumatic for them.”

So what we have is a court that looks at a mother’s unsupported allegations of abuse and (a) refuses to enforce the Hague Convention and (b) only allows their father the most limited of supervised visitation.  It looks at the same kids who’ve plainly been abused by their mother’s abduction of them and her denial of contact with their father, and gives the thumbs up.  That’s bad for children and it violates the Hague Convention, but why would a family court be concerned about that?

So far the whole thing has cost him $70,000.

Grant Cossey, welcome to the United States.  Get comfortable, it looks like a long stay.

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Abducted Children – We can bring them back


Time is a very important factor if a child is missing. Immediate access to current information about the missing child is critical. Although nobody hopes to be in such a situation where this information is needed, parents have to keep in mind that child abduction can occur anytime, anywhere, to any child. Therefore, parents must have the resources and knowledge about their children ready, so they can take action if their children become missing.

The goal of ABP World Group international child recovery services is to locate, negotiate and recover your missing child. We can dispatch personnel to most locations in the world; we specialize in locating missing children up to ages 18.

Areas of expertise: Parental abduction, Missing children, Kidnappings,
Runaway children and Counselling.

Unfortunately in this day and time parental kidnapping happens and we are here to help you trough this difficult time.
We are aware parental child abduction can be difficult to resolve, but we use professional operatives with the skills and expertise to help find a resolution.

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

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‘A very disturbing trend’: Parents kidnap their children, flee country


Washington (CNN) — More children are being abducted by a parent who then takes them out of the country, and more needs to be done to bring the children back to their legal homes, the U.S. official who oversees the issue said Wednesday.

The number of such abductions reported is “sharply on the rise — a very disturbing trend,” said Susan Jacobs, the special advisor for children’s issues at the State Department.

Jacobs also said her department is one of the fastest growing offices at the State Department because of the increasing rate of international abductions involving children with American parents.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited children said that in 2010 there were nearly 2,000 parental abductions in which the child was taken out of the United States.

“International parental abduction is a federal crime with long-term, damaging consequences for both parents and children, even when the cases are resolved,” Jacobs said. “Parents seeking the return of their children or permission to visit them confront unfamiliar legal, cultural, and linguistic barriers; they suffer emotional trauma, and they face significant and long-term financial costs.”

The United States is encouraging other countries to sign onto The Hague Convention on international child abductions, a treaty signed by more than 60 countries that provides a civil mechanism to return children wrongfully removed from the country where they live.

Jacobs said decisions under the convention are commonly based on where the child usually resides. When properly implemented, “the convention works,” she said.

The issue grabbed headlines a few years ago with the case of Sean Goldman, whose American father, David, was engaged in an international custody battle after the boy’s Brazilian mother refused to let the child return to his father following a vacation in Brazil. The boy was eventually returned to his father after a ruling by the Brazilian supreme court.

Jacobs, incidentally, met with Brazilian authorities last week to discuss ways to speed up the reunification of children with their families. From their discussions, Jacobs said, Brazil and the United States are to hold the first meeting of a children’s working group later this year.

Jacobs and others traveled to the Department of Justice Wednesday afternoon for an observance of National Missing Children’s Day to honor the work of those in law enforcement who recover missing children and combat child exploitation.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has weighed in on the issue as well. In videotaped remarks to mark the day, Clinton asked for to people to continue to speak out on the issue to “help children around the world come home.”

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It Shouldn`t Hurt To Be A Child


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.

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).

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 of resident to 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.

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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Japan close to joining Hague Convention


Source: Dadsdivorce.com

Japan close to joining Hague Convention to address parental kidnappings

Because of the difference between Japanese and American laws regarding custody and kidnapping, Japan has become a safe refuge for parents who abduct their own children and want to keep them away from their American fathers.

That may no longer be the case, though, as Japan has endorsed plans to bring itself in line with the international child custody convention commonly referred to as the Hague Convention, according to an Associated Press report.

The Hague Convention is a treaty between roughly 80 countries that agree to cooperate and abide by one set of laws for the return of children removed from their home country over custody disputes. (For more information, read the article “Hague Convention – International Child Abduction Help.”)

International kidnapping of children of divorce is exacerbated when the kidnapping parent retreats to countries such as Japan, who have not signed the Hague Convention.

Japan has been seen as a safe harbor for kidnapper parents, though increased attention and foreign pressure was put on the country following the 2009 case of Christopher Savoie.

Savoie was imprisoned in Japan for trying to rescue his kidnapped children after his ex-wife broke Tennessee state law by illegally removing the children from the United States. (Watch our interview with Savoie’s lawyer shortly after his client was arrested.)

Current Japanese law allows only one parent to have custody of children in divorce cases — nearly always the mother, according to the AP story. That has kept foreign, and even Japanese fathers, from having access to their children.

The AP said the new law would allow foreign parents more access to their children. While it is expected that the Cabinet will approve the change in custody laws, the proposal must also by approved by parliament, according to the AP story.

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Custodial father sues airline for helping ex-wife abduct his son


Source: Brisbane Times

A US man has sued Japan Airlines, claiming it wrongfully helped his Japanese ex-wife leave the United States with their son, despite court orders that the child remain in California.

Scott Sawyer alleges the airline and a US travel agency agency knowingly assisted his ex-wife, Japanese national Kyoko Sawyer, take their son Wayne to Japan in December 2008 when the boy was two years old.

“There is a long list of red flags that existed in this case that should have caused the airline and travel agency to do something,” lawyer Mark Meuser said on Saturday.

The companies were “deliberately turning blind eyes to the known parental kidnapping problem endemic to Japan and the warning signals surrounding this case,” Meuser added in a statement.

Japan is the only major industrial country that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention, which requires the return of wrongfully held children to their countries of usual residence.

When international marriages break up, Japanese courts rarely grant custody to a foreign parent, particularly fathers.

Activists say thousands of foreigners, mostly men, have been barred at some point from seeing their children once the youngsters have been taken to Japan by the estranged partners. Sawyer has not seen his son since his ex-wife took him to Japan more than two years ago.

The lawsuit was filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court, which in 2008 approved the divorce and granted shared custody of Wayne, who is now four years old.

Sawyer’s ex-wife had been ordered to turn in her passport and to not travel with the boy outside five counties in and around Los Angeles, Meuser said.

But she left San Francisco on a flight to Japan after having obtained a Japanese passport for her son just days prior, Meuser said.

Meuser said there is no law requiring the airline and travel agency to check custody issues on travel from the United States to Japan, but said they should be held responsible nonetheless.

“They should have flagged everybody,” he said. “Wayne has red hair. He’s clearly bi-racial and he’s going to a country known to have problems with parental kidnapping. They had all the warning signs.”

Sawyer’s lawyers said airlines and travel agencies should require parents traveling alone with a minor child to Japan to obtain legal approval from the non-traveling parent authorising the child’s trip.

US State Department figures, cited by the lawyers, show that 230 cases of parental abductions involving 321 children have been opened since 1994.

Japan said in September that it was seriously considering signing the international treaty to stop child abductions, although officials said it may take time as the nation would need to change domestic laws.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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