A Guide For Action When A Spouse Steals Your Children


The Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the American Bar Association, including its Young Lawyers Division, recommend taking the following steps as a guide for lawyers and clients handling these cases after the child has been snatched by a parent. 

  • Hire an aggressive family law attorney, preferably one with experience in parental-kidnapping situations.
  • If you have not already filed for divorce, DO SO IMMEDIATELY. File for divorce and full custody of the children.
  • Assemble your documentation of court decrees and custody orders, if any.
  • If you do not have custody, use the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, which established rules help courts determine jurisdiction, to petition for custody in the local family court.
  • Ask local police to issue a warrant for the arrest of the kidnapping parent.
  • Insist that a missing person’s report be posted immediately on National Crime Information Center and Interpol computers. Many local police departments will mistakenly tell parents that they need to see a final custody order before issuing a missing child report or that a waiting period is required, but this is no longer true. Such delays are prohibited by the National Child Search Assistance Act (P.L. 101-647; 42 U.S.C. 5779, 5780), which requires law enforcement to immediately enter a missing child report into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
  • Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE LOST or 703-235-3900. The Web address of its international branch is www.icmec.co.uk. The center maintains a missing children’s data base and publishes a booklet on preventing and reacting to abduction.
  • Contact the local FBI office. If the FBI tells you that you first need a state warrant, point out that the 1993 International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act ended that requirement.
  • Ask the state prosecutor or district attorney to request the local U.S. attorney’s to issue a federal Unauthorized Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP) arrest warrant. The Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 provides for the issuance of this warrant.
  • Once you have the UFAP warrant, ask the FBI to assist in the investigation and to use the services of the federal Parent Locator Service.
  • Investigate possible civil remedies and consider the viability of a tort suit against the kidnapper, including anyone who may have assisted in the abduction.
  • Use whatever information you have about the abducting parent in your investigation, such as names of family members or friends who may know of his or her whereabouts.
  • If you suspect an international kidnapping, after you have the UFAP warrant, ask the FBI to request the U.S. Attorney’s office to have the passport of the kidnapping parent revoked.
  • Call the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues (1-202-736-7000), and request the booklet, “International Parental Child Abduction“. The booklet outlines what you should do and what the office can do for you.
  • If you have to to litigate the matter in a foreign country, contact the State Department’s office of the Overseas Citzens’ Services of the Bureau of Consular Affairs for a list of attorneys available for such cases.
  • Contact ABP World Group Ltd. for free counseling – We can recover your child – Child Recovery Services World Wide.

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Sharp rise in international parental kidnapping cases


By: Emily Babay

One year ago, Douglass Berg, of Reston, said goodbye to his son and daughter before they boarded a flight with his ex-wife on what was supposed to be a three-week visit to her native Japan. He has not seen the children since.


Stefanie Gardner, a native of Germany, traveled to that country with the two young sons she had been raising in Northern Virginia with her estranged husband, Gregory. Since then, she has refused to allow them to return. He accused her of kidnapping the boys, and a warrant for her arrest was issued in the United States. But a German court has awarded her sole custody.

For an increasing number of parents in the Washington area, child-bearing relationships with a foreign partner are deteriorating into charges of child abductions, and in many cases legal struggles in which the deck is stacked against Americans fighting the laws of another country.

Nationwide, the number of cases is rising dramatically. There were 1,135 international child abductions in fiscal 2009, according to State Department statistics. That’s nearly double the 642 cases reported in 2006.

Foreign travel, military operations and immigration have spurred an increase in international relationships, experts say. And an international city such as Washington, full of embassy personnel and staffers for global companies, is fertile ground for such abductions. But parents of different nationalities raising children together can lead to “cultural differences that people may not be willing to compromise on,” said Donna Linder, executive director of the nonprofit Child Find of America.

Berg told The Washington Examiner that his ex-wife “felt like I was invading her turf” by sharing custody of Gunnar, now age 10, and Kianna, 9, after their divorce. She thought child care was a mom’s responsibility.

“That may be her culture, but that’s certainly not mine,” he said.

Gardner’s attorneys say tensions grew between Gardner and her husband, and he consented to her taking the children to Germany in 2004.

German court documents show that, in 2005, she was awarded custody of Alec, now age 8, and Dominic, now 7. In 2006, a federal warrant was issued for Gardner’s arrest. Her attorneys are trying to get the charge dropped. One of them, Steven Gremminger, said they’ve given authorities information from German courts and the prosecutor “has indicated that she’s having the FBI review that.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria and the FBI declined to comment.

“There’s nothing easy” about international abduction cases, said Stefanie Eye, a State Department division chief for abductions. “You’re dealing with the laws of two or more sovereign nations.” Resolutions are often hard to find.

In 1994, the ex-husband of Catherine Meyer — who would later marry British ambassador Christopher Meyer — abducted her sons to Germany. While in D.C., Catherine Meyer became an advocate on parental abduction issues. Over nine years, she saw her children for just a few hours. The case was only resolved when the boys became adults and free to reunite with her.

That’s the moment Berg is waiting for, he said. He has created Web sites he hopes Gunnar and Kianna will find so “they realize that their father loves them very much and realize I was trying to get ahold of them.”

No one keeps statistics on how often criminal prosecutions are pursued in such cases. But even that doesn’t guarantee a child’s return. The FBI doesn’t have jurisdiction overseas, so it must rely on foreign authorities. Many cases reach an impasse, where children remain with the parent who has them. Often, no one can force an abducting parent to give up a child or return home, said Preston Findlay, a lawyer with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

For the parents on both sides, it’s a frustrating wait.

Gardner is “not a kidnapper, she’s a mom, and a good mom,” Gremminger said. And Berg said he continues to lose sleep wondering if he’ll see his children again. “It’s all you can think about,” he said.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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Parental Abduction – The Philippines


Parental child abduction is not a crime under Philippine law.

Custody disputes are considered civil legal matters that must be resolved between the concerned parties or through the courts in the Philippines. Philippine authorities advise the American Embassy that generally the Philippine courts will give custody of children under the age of seven to the mother, provided there is no evidence that would indicate that the mother is unfit to raise the child. Although there is no treaty in force between the United States and the Philippines on enforcement of judgments, the Philippine courts will also take into consideration child custody decrees issued by foreign courts in deciding disputes regarding children residing in the Philippines.

General Information: The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the Philippines and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, there is no treaty remedy by which the left behind parent would be able to pursue recovery of the child/ren should they be abducted to or wrongfully retained in the Philippines. Once in the Philippines, the child/ren would be completely subject to Philippine law for all matters including custody.

Child Abduction Recovery Services

Note: If your child is abducted to The Philippines, you will have very small chances to win the legal dispute there. The Philippines never returns abducted children. The only way is to re-kidnap the child or to make a deal with your ex spouse. It`s all about money in The Philippines.

 

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Six warning signs of possible child abduction


The incidence of international child abductions is greater than official figures reveal.

Some of the warning signs of impending abduction include:

  1. The other parent is planning a trip out of the country with your child;
  2. Your ex-spouse is coming from overseas, and you are worried they plan to abduct your child;
  3. Your ex-spouse wants you to co-sign your child’s passport without good reason;
  4. Your  child is a citizen of a country which allows one parent alone to apply for the child’s passport and you have a fear of child abduction;
  5. The other parent has a home, a family or other connections overseas and you are concerned that there is no reason for them to stay in your country;
  6. The other parent has no substantial property or employment in your country, and nothing keeping them here.

In addition, you should obtain urgent legal advice if:

  1. The other parent has already left the country with your child;
  2. You are not sure if they plan to return or if you believe they will not return;
  3. There is a link to overseas family or property;
  4. There is no other significant link to your country.

If any of the above applies to you, you should make an urgent appointment to see a family lawyer for further advice specific to your situation.

How to search for an abducted child

What steps can you take if you want to know the location of a child who you believe has been abducted? Under the Family Law Act, certain people can apply for a location order in relation to a child. A location order is an order made by a court that requires a person to provide information about a child’s location to the court.

The following people can apply for a location order: (Australia)

  • a person who a child is to live with in accordance with a parenting order;
  • a person who a child is to spend time with in accordance with a parenting order;
  • a person who a child is to communicate with under a parenting order;
  • a person who has parental responsibility for a child under a parenting order;
  • a grandparent of a child;
  • any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of a child;
  • For the purposes of the Child Protection Convention, a person (including the Commonwealth Central Authority) may apply to a court for a location order.

If you suspect a child is about to be abducted and taken out of the country you need to act quickly.

Source: Armstrong Legal

 

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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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

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