Help us bring our children home


Source: The Courier-Mail, June 14, 2011

RAISING AWARENESS: Ken Thompson cycled 6500km across Europe in a desperate bid to find his son. Picture: AP Source: AP

HUNDREDS of desperate mums and dads are fighting to have their kids returned to Australia amid the “silent epidemic” of international parental abduction. Three children are taken from our shores each week and the parents left behind face trauma, guilt and financial stress as they take on the emotional, complex and often futile task of having their children returned.

International help is available under the Hague Convention for the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, the process can be largely fruitless if the fleeing parent takes the child to an unco-operative country such as Brazil or Chile, or a country not yet party to the treaty such as Japan. Last year, 125 children were wrongfully removed from Australia to another Hague Convention country, with 74 returned. Another 29 were abducted to non-convention countries. These are the cases authorities know of, with family dispute experts saying the true number could be double official figures.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland told The Courier-Mail parental child abductions were “not uncommon”. “I think each and every MP who’s been here for a while would have seen an example in their electorate,” he said. The scale of the issue has been widely reflected in social media, with hundreds of Facebook pages and social networking campaigns dedicated to finding parentally abducted children.

The Courier-Mail has spoken to five parents – including four Queenslanders – who are fighting for their kids’ return. A Townsville-born dad, who lives in the US, has vowed to get his two-year-old son back from Brazil or “die trying” after his wife of seven years took their boy to Rio de Janeiro for a two-week holiday and never returned.

“Child abduction for the left-behind parent is like waterboarding,” he said. “The frustration, the worry, the missing each day of his life is all-consuming.” In separate cases spanning seven years, four fathers said their former Japanese spouses had abducted their kids after the Family Court granted the mothers permission to take the children to Japan for a holiday. George, from the Gold Coast, said he lived solely to see his two sons again after they were abducted to Japan in 2004. “To be honest, I even got so depressed for two years, I nearly killed myself,” he said. “The only thing (left-behind parents) can do is support each other.

No one’s helping us.” Daniel, from Sydney, said his former wife abducted their two-year-old son to Japan last year, after they separated, because she disagreed with Australian custody laws. “That was not how she wanted to live her life. It just didn’t fit into her plans,” he said. International Social Service Australia national services manager Helen Freris said the ratio of mums and dads abducting children was roughly equal. “The two main reasons given are a belief it’s the only way to protect a child and the other overarching category involves revenge towards the other parent,” she said.

Whatever the motive, child abduction had long-term psychological impacts on the child and left-behind parent. “It can impact the child’s sense of safety, security and stability in their living arrangements,” Ms Freris said. “There are also the economic implications … initiating legal proceedings in the country where the child has been taken can be costly,” she said. Former NSW deputy fire chief Ken Thompson said he had experienced shock, disbelief, anxiety, depression and uncertainty when his six-year-old son Andrew was abducted in 2008.

The Sydney father – who raised awareness of the issue by cycling 6500km across Europe in a desperate bid to find his son – said parental abduction was “incredibly cruel” to children, as well as left-behind parents. “It’s recognised as one of the most extreme forms of child abuse because you’ve taken that child away from everything … and in a lot of cases they lose contact with both sides (of the family) because the parent’s in hiding,” he said. “The number of people who are damaged by this phenomenon is just extraordinary. “It’s not just the left-behind parent. “It’s the other family members, friends, colleagues. “Not knowing where your child is has got to be the worst thing you can possibly experience.” To other left-behind parents, Mr Thompson said: “You’ve just got to keep focused on finding the child and working through whatever legal processes are available to have the child returned. “You’ve also got to raise public awareness to the plight of the child.”

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Parents sick of waiting for ‘child abduction’ action


Source: The Courier-Mail June 13, 2011

NEW laws are being considered to stem the flow of children abducted from Australia by parents.

Three children are illegally taken overseas each week in a “silent epidemic” of parental abductions.

Parents left behind face trauma, guilt and financial stress as they take on the emotional, complex and often futile task of having their children returned.

The Family Law Council has advised Attorney-General Robert McClelland that keeping children overseas, beyond an agreed period, should be made a criminal offence that could attract a jail term.

Current legislation does not cover the situation where a parent takes a child overseas with the other parent’s consent, but then keeps the child abroad.Mr McClelland said the council’s submission “had some weight” and was under “serious consideration”.

 

He said failing to return a child could be an offence added to section 65 of the Act.

“A situation when a child is taken out of the country voluntarily, or with consent, for instance for a holiday or to visit overseas relatives and . . . is kept overseas that’s certainly an issue the Government is looking at,” he said. “We’ll be looking at what we’re doing with a bunch of family law amendments . . . including the violence amendments.”

The Council recommended the Family Law Act (1975) be amended to include wrongful retentions.

“Council also recommends that the Act be amended to . . . include parents who remove a child without the requisite consent or authority in circumstances where Family Dispute Resolution has been initiated, or an invitation to participate in Family Dispute Resolution has been received,” the advice said.

“International parental child abduction has serious implications for public policy, the welfare of children and access to justice.”

Mr McClelland urged parents worried about child abductions to act fast.

“We could do more work in promoting the preventative measures parents can take, such as getting their children on the airport watch list,” he said.

“The Family Court’s becoming a little more proactive. They will much more quickly hear applications for people to get their kids placed on the airport watch list. “The first thing is (for parents) to think carefully before they give consent for a passport to be issued in a child’s name.”

Families torn apart: Meet the parents fighting to see their kids again, only in The Courier-Mail tomorrow  

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Australia: Push to curb abductions by parents


Source: The Courier-Mail  June 13, 2011

UNDER CONSIDERATION: Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland says the Government is considering increasing penalties for parents who keep their children overseas for longer than an agreed period.

NEW laws are being considered to stem the flow of children abducted from Australia by parents.

Three children are illegally taken overseas each week in a “silent epidemic” of parental abductions.

Parents left behind face trauma, guilt and financial stress as they take on the emotional, complex and often futile task of having their children returned.

The Family Law Council has advised Attorney-General Robert McClelland that keeping children overseas, beyond an agreed period, should be made a criminal offence that could attract a jail term.

Current legislation does not cover the situation where a parent takes a child overseas with the other parent’s consent, but then keeps the child abroad.

Mr McClelland said the council’s submission “had some weight” and was under “serious consideration”.

He said failing to return a child could be an offence added to section 65 of the Act.

“A situation when a child is taken out of the country voluntarily, or with consent, for instance for a holiday or to visit overseas relatives and … is kept overseas that’s certainly an issue the Government is looking at,” he said. “We’ll be looking at what we’re doing with a bunch of family law amendments … including the violence amendments.”

The Council recommended the Family Law Act (1975) be amended to include wrongful retentions.

“Council also recommends that the Act be amended to … include parents who remove a child without the requisite consent or authority in circumstances where Family Dispute Resolution has been initiated, or an invitation to participate in Family Dispute Resolution has been received,” the advice said.

“International parental child abduction has serious implications for public policy, the welfare of children and access to justice.”

Mr McClelland urged parents worried about child abductions to act fast.

“We could do more work in promoting the preventative measures parents can take, such as getting their children on the airport watch list,” he said.

“The Family Court’s becoming a little more proactive. They will much more quickly hear applications for people to get their kids placed on the airport watch list …

“The first thing is (for parents) to think carefully before they give consent for a passport to be issued in a child’s name.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

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


Friday, 4th February 2011

Toddler to stay with dad after mum claims abduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Times Of Malta

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

What to do if a spouse make threats of international child abduction


You May Need to Be Prepared

When a divorce is messy and there is fear that one spouse may try to kidnap the child, it’s best to be prepared. In other words, never take lightly the threat of a spouse. If they say they’re going to take the child, contact the police. According to data from the United States Department of State, since the late 1970’s approximately 16,000 children have either been abducted from the United States and taken out of the country, or prevented by one of their parents from returning to the United States. Once a child is taken from the United States, it is a complicated procedure to regain possession of the child. Therefore, it’s always best to seek out the assistance of a divorce attorney who can help you with legal options. If you have suspicions that your child might be abducted, consider the following:

  • Notify your child’s school if there is a threat of child abduction by the non-custodial parent.
  • Make sure any teacher or babysitter is instructed that they are not to allow anyone to leave with your child unless that person has been authorized in accordance with a court order.
  • Speak with a divorce lawyer before taking any measures to be sure you’re within your legal rights.
  • Keep a record of any threats by writing them down.
  • Keep an updated photo of your child each month as well as any identifying physical characteristics of your child.

If you think your child has been abducted to another country, call the police immediately to determine whether that particular country is a member of the Hague Convention and seek the guidance of an attorney who can submit an application for assistance under the Hague Convention.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Ironboyzz-FacebookTwitter-Ironboyzz

profile pic.jpgdroppedImage_7TM

download (2)

ABP World Group™ Risk Management

Contact us here: Mail 

Skype: abpworld

NOTE: We are always available 24/7