USA / Saudi Arabia: Pa. woman reunited with sons kidnapped by Saudi Arabian dad


From left, Elyas, Ibrahim and Muhammad Sayed in photos issued in 2013 when the boys went missing.

From left, Elyas, Ibrahim and Muhammad Sayed in photos issued in 2013 when the boys went missing.(MissingKids.com)

WILLIAMSPORT — Three young boys taken by their father to Saudi Arabia in 2014 are back with their mother in Lycoming County.

The circumstance of how Elyas, Ibrahim and Muhammad Sayed were reunited with their mother Jessica Socling in the Jersey Shore area is unknown because she declined to be interviewed, saying the family sought privacy.

“We have all been very damaged from this experience,” she said.

An arrest warrant remains active for Socling’s former husband, Majed Sayed, should he return to the United States from Saudi Arabia.

He was indicted in U.S. Middle District Court in April 2014 on charges of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy. The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia.

Cori Lynn Mancuso, a Lycoming College honors graduate living in Williamsport at the time, also was indicted.

She subsequently pleaded guilty, admitting she concealed the kidnapping plans for a month. She was sentenced to a year in prison in March 2015.

Judge Matthew W. Brann found Mancuso plotted the kidnapping of the children, then deflected questions about the children’s whereabouts the night of the abduction.

Sayed and Mancuso said they were married in a Muslim ceremony not recognized in the United States but she obtained a divorce when she returned to the country.

Socling and Sayed were married in 2004 but had separated in November 2012. She was granted a divorce by default in April 2015.

In April 2013 she obtained an emergency order from a Lycoming County judge giving her primary custody and limiting Sayed’s time with the children, as well as imposing passport restrictions. At the time, Sayed was enrolled in a master’s program at Shippensburg University.

However, one Sunday Sayed did not return the boys, all under the age of 10, to their mother by the agreed-upon time. Socling confirmed with  Washington Dulles International Airport that they  were on a direct flight to Saudi Arabia.

Her attempts through the State Department and the Saudi government to gain access to her children were futile although she was able to communicate with them through Skype.

“It is hard for me to adequately put into words the pain and frustration of two years of struggling and disappointments, both from my own government and the Saudi government,” Socling said in November 2015.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to or from The United States or Saudi Arabia feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at contact@abpworld.com or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

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India may not sign Hague convention on international child abduction


Around 90 countries are signatories to the convention that protects children under 16 from “wrongful removal or retention” by a parent.

There has been a steady rise in parental abductions as more and more Indians go abroad to work or study.

The government is unlikely to sign in near future an international treaty that makes inter-country abduction of children by parents a punishable offence, two Union women and child development (WCD) ministry officials have said.

Signing the Hague convention on civil aspects of international child abduction would be against the interest of women who flee bad marriages, they said.

India needs to have a domestic law in place before joining the treaty. “But the Union women and child ministry has decided against drafting a domestic law to address the civil aspects of international child abduction,” one of the officials said.

Around 90 countries are signatories to the convention that protects children under 16 from “wrongful removal or retention” by a parent. It also mandates that the country to which the parent flees with the child has to send back both to the child’s “habitual place of residence”.

There has been a steady rise in parental abductions as more and more Indians go abroad to work or study. Children bear the brunt of parents’ marital disputes and are often forced to return to India by one of the quarrelling parents. In most cases, it is the mother who returns with the child.

“Instead of framing a domestic law, we have decided to put in place an internal mechanism to redress all such complaints that come to us from women who have run away from a violent marriage and returned to India with her children,” a second official said.

The ministry is setting up a panel headed by the chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). Its members will include a representative of the embassy of the country from where the parent has fled with the child. “We will forward any complain that comes to us to the NCPCR committee, which will examine the case,” the second official said.

Based on the recommendations, the WCD secretary-led nodal agency that looks into NRI marital disputes would pass a speaking order that would help the woman in her legal battle in India as well as abroad.

Last year, the ministry set up a committee under justice Rajesh Bindal of the Chandigarh Judicial Academy to examine the issue of international child abduction. In its report, the panel suggested against joining the Hague convention.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to or from India feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at contact@abpworld.com or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

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Malta: New Regulations aimed at ensuring proper security within the Schengen Area


“Building resilience against terrorist threats can help us fulfil our responsibility to keep our citizens safe and secure. A revamped Schengen Information System (SIS) is an essential tool for this aim,” MEP Miriam Dalli said.

MEP Miriam Dalli has highlighted the importance of information sharing between EU member states

Maltese MEP Miriam Dalli has highlighted the importance of cross-border information sharing in tackling human trafficking, child abduction and terrorism, as an informal agreement was reached at EU level on the use of the Schengen Information System (SIS).

The sharing of information between Member States is a basic element in ensuring the safety and security of our citizens across the European Union, Dalli, a Labour MEP said.

“Building resilience against terrorist threats can help us fulfil our responsibility to keep our citizens safe and secure. A revamped Schengen Information System (SIS) is an essential tool for this aim,” MEP Dalli stated.

As rapporteur for the Socialists and Democrats, Dalli welcomed the informal agreement reached between the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament on three regulations on the use of SIS for judicial matters, for border control and for matters of returns of third country nationals.

The draft regulations introduce additional categories of alerts, including alerts on unknown suspects or wanted persons.

Dalli highlighted how the tools under SIS can be used in preventing and combating child abductions or cases of missing children as well.

“For me it was always important not only to address the fight against human trafficking and child abduction, but also to ensure that their fundamental rights with regards to their personal data are protected,” Dalli said.

The draft regulations introduce preventive alerts for children at risk of parental abductions, as well as children and vulnerable persons who are to be prevented from travelling for their own protection.

Over the past years, the challenges of migration and terrorism became increasingly interlinked. A 2017 study by the Danish Institute for International Studies revealed that in the last decade, the great majority of individuals involved in perpetrating terrorist attacks in Europe have been EU citizens. The study showed that many were foreign fighters, and most were already known to the European authorities.

Information exchange among police and judicial authorities in criminal matters and in the field of border checks is essential. The agreement reached includes also alerts for the purpose of return for third-country nationals whose asylum requests are not justified and hence rejected.

“We have the tools to guarantee the safety of our citizens. Now, it is up to the Member States to properly implement the Schengen Acquis,” Dalli concluded.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to or from Malta feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at contact@abpworld.com or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

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Isreal: International parental child abduction case orders mother to return the child to Israel


Young girl

I have written here on numerous occasions about international child abduction cases, and applications by the parent ‘left behind’ for the summary return of the child to its ‘home’ country, pursuant to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Each case has its own particular point or points of interest. In the recent case MK v RP, it was the fact that the mother claimed that the father had given his consent to her removing the child, in an agreement drawn up at the time they were divorced.

The background to the case was as follows. The parents were both Israeli citizens. They married when they were both around 19 years of age and shortly thereafter their daughter was born. The marriage soon broke down and the parents separated in October 2012, the child remaining with the mother. The parents were then divorced, and arrangements to take effect upon the divorce were put into a written agreement, which was registered in the Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem in December 2013.

The agreement provided, amongst other things, for the child to live with the mother, and for the father to have contact with her. Unfortunately, there were problems with the father’s contact and he, therefore, issued child arrangement proceedings in the Family Court of Jerusalem. Those proceedings remain open.

Meanwhile, in June 2015 the mother remarried. Her husband is a British citizen and, according to the mother, she and her husband agreed to relocate to England after two years of marriage.

On 22 November 2017, the mother made an application to the Rabbinical Court seeking an order that she had authority to remove the child permanently from Israel. The father claimed not to have been served with this application. On 28 November, the Rabbinical Court made an order determining that there was no obstacle to the mother removing the child from Israel.

On the following day, the mother travelled to England with the child. She did not inform the father, who only found out what had happened when the child was not made available for contact, and the mother’s lawyer wrote to the Family Court to provide an explanation.

The father then issued his application under the Hague Convention for the summary return of the child to Israel. The mother raised two defences to the application: that the father had consented to the child’s removal, and that a return of the child would expose her to a grave risk of psychological harm or otherwise place her in an intolerable position.

As indicated, the mother claimed that the father’s consent was contained in the divorce agreement. Specifically, the mother said that as there can be stigma within her community in Israel for a divorced woman, the likelihood was that if she were to remarry it would be to a man living abroad.

Accordingly, she said, a clause was inserted into the divorce agreement whereby the husband agreed to consent to the mother taking the child abroad if she remarried, in return for the mother not seeking spousal maintenance.

The father denied giving any such consent.

Hearing the case, Mr Darren Howe QC found that the father had not given consent. The divorce agreement was very poorly drafted and its terms were unclear. It certainly did not contain the clear and unambiguous consent that the mother claimed. As to the order made by the Rabbinical Court on 28 November, that court did not have jurisdiction to deal with the child’s relocation, which was a matter for the Family Court.

As to the ‘risk of harm’ defence raised by the mother, this can be dealt with quite shortly. As Mr Howe found, the mother’s allegations arose largely from the practical arrangements to be put in place for the mother and the child should a return be ordered. He did not accept that a return would place the child in an intolerable situation or cause her psychological harm.

Accordingly, Mr Howe ordered that the child should be returned to Israel immediately. The mother could then if she wished to apply to the Family Court in Jerusalem for permission to relocate with the child to England.

The full report of the judgment is here.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to or from Israel feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at contact@abpworld.com or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

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Japan: U.N. TOLD PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTIONS SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION IN JAPAN


PictureShunichi Fujiki speaking at the UN Human Rights Council

Addressing at the United Nations Human Rights Council this week Mr. Shunichi Fujiki of the International Career Support Association declared, “Parental child abductions are becoming a serious human rights violation in Japan.”

“The abducted child is at the mercy of the abducting parent. The child can no longer go home and [is] forced to sever their relationship with the abandoned parent.”

Children have the right to be loved by both parents. He continues, “In Japan many children are deprived of the basic rights because of the current system and crooked lawyers.”

If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to or from Japan feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at contact@abpworld.com or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

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International families and the price of child relocation without consent


The recent case of a British mother of three young children who was extradited from the United States to England to face criminal charges relating to child abduction and passport fraud serves as a stark reminder of the heartbreaking predicament that an international family can face upon the breakdown of a relationship.

In October 2015 the mother moved from England to Alaska to live with her American husband. She had given birth to their son in May 2015. She already had two daughters from her previous marriage to a British man. She took all three children to Alaska with her, despite having previously been refused permission to do so by her daughters’ father and the English court.

It is a criminal offence in England for a parent to remove a child from the United Kingdom without the consent of all other persons with parental responsibility for that child (usually the other parent) or a court order. In the present case, the children’s father reported the mother’s abduction of their daughters to the English police. In due course an extradition request was made to the US. In January 2018 the mother was detained pending her extradition to UK (which took place in April 2018), leaving her daughters in Alaska with their stepfather and younger half-brother. The mother is now in custody in England awaiting a criminal trial and the family remains separated across two continents.

The situation is catastrophic for all involved: the daughters have not seen their father since they left the UK, the father will most likely have to ask the Alaskan courts to deal with the arrangements for his daughters as the children are now settled in Alaska, and the mother is in custody with all three children being deprived of any contact with her.

For the events of 2015 to lead to criminal proceedings and a successful extradition request is unusual. Moreover, such circumstances do not necessarily result in the return of the child. More usually, and effectively, the left behind parent will apply for the child’s return pursuant to the Hague Convention 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to which both England and the USA are signatories. The Hague Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure for their prompt return. As a result, parents who have relocated without permission can find themselves in a position where their children are ordered to return to the country that they have left, causing both emotional and practical difficulties.

London is home to many international families, from the USA and elsewhere, many of whom move here to follow the main breadwinner’s career. If the parents’ relationship breaks down, many people’s first instinct is to want to return to the support of their wider family and network of friends in their native country at this difficult time.

Accordingly many parents living here are surprised to learn that they cannot simply decide to return to their native country with their children without the other parent’s permission, whether for a holiday or a permanent move. My colleagues and I are regularly consulted by parents living here with their children who wish to take their children back to live in their native country with them or who wish to relocate to another country with their children, perhaps to pursue a job opportunity, a better life or a new relationship. Equally we are consulted by parents who want their children to stay with them in England.

If the left behind parent does not agree to the move, the parent who wants to take the child to live abroad has to apply to the court for permission. The parent who wants the child to stay can try to defend the application. In determining an issue regarding a child, the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. The court has to decide whether it is in the best interests of the child to grant the application, in accordance with the welfare checklist at section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989. The court will want to be satisfied that the parent wishing to relocate has a sensible plan and a genuine reason for wishing to move. Both parents’ actions and motivations will be scrutinized by the court and accordingly it is important for the applicant parent to be as organised as possible from the outset, and to have a realistic plan that supports the relationship between the child and the left behind parent.

The Alaskan case is an extreme and harrowing example, but reminds us that parents should take legal advice as soon as it becomes clear that there may be a dispute about whether or not a child can leave England, whether for a holiday or a permanent relocation. The alternative is to risk the involvement of law enforcement agencies with an appetite to bring criminal and extradition proceedings, and to face the awful consequences that can flow from them.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to or from The United States or The United Kingdom feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at contact@abpworld.com or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

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USA / Czech Republic: 11th Circuit Asked to Void Fee Award in Child Abduction Case


(CN) – The attorney for a Czech woman accused of bringing her child to the United States without the father’s consent asked the 11th Circuit Wednesday to overturn the judgment against her for attorney’s fees and litigation costs claiming both are “clearly inappropriate.”

In January 2018, the federal judge ordered Veronica Marcoski, a Czech immigrant residing in Florida, to return her son to the Czech Republic because she wrongfully removed him from the country and it was his “habitual place of residence.”

The court also ordered Marcoski to pay the child’s father, Jan Rath, $89,490.26 for attorney’s fees, costs and expenses.

The child was returned to the Czech Republic in January 2017, and the Czech Court awarded custody to the father and weekly visits to the mother.

Marcoski appealed the district court’s decision to return the child to the Czech Republic, but she lost the appeal when the 11th Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision in February 2018.

The child, identified in court documents and during Wednesday’s proceedings as L.N.R. was born in 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic, and he lived there until April 2016 when Marcoski brought him to the United States without telling Rath, who was away on a business trip.

According to the amended complaint, Marcoski and Rath, who were never married, separated shortly after L.N.R. was born, but Rath continued to  exercise his parental and custody rights and he paid Marcoski child support.

Rath claims Marcoski failed to recognize the judgment entered by the Courts of the Czech Republic ordering her to return the child to his home country, and she also failed to follow the parental time-sharing arrangement mandated by the court.

But Marcoski alleged in court documents that Rath physically assaulted her on several occasions during her pregnancy, and that he and his family had a “history of corruptive and criminal behavior.”

She also said L.N.R., who has dual citizenship in the United States, would suffer physical or psychological harm if he’s returned to the Czech Republic.

Attorney Joseph Kenny of St. Petersburg, Fla., who represents Jan Rath, said that Marcoski never showed evidence of the alleged physical assault against her.

“Ms. Marcoski made some vague allegations in an effort to meet a legal exception to the return requirements under the International Child Abduction Act, but all those allegations were abandoned at trial,” Kenny said.

On Wednesday, Attorney Charles Auslander of Miami, Fla., asked the three-judge panel to reverse the fee portion of the judgment because the decision was made on a “bad faith” assumption and erroneous factual elements.

He claimed that the award of fees should be based under The International Child Abduction Remedies Act.

“The standard of law was not correctly decided by the district court,” Auslander said.

U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus was unconvinced, telling Auslander “You haven’t established that the fees are ‘clearly inappropriate’.”

Attorney Joseph Kenny of St. Petersburg, Fla., who argued on behalf of Jan Rath, said that once the court approves the removal of the child, there are different factors that influence the fees.

Kenny also argued that the entire case turned into whether the parties wanted to raise the child in Czech Republic, and that his client had no issues with paying for the support of the child.

Auslander countered by saying that Marcoski had valid reasons to remove her child from the Czech Republic because it was not his habitual residence, and that his client feared Rath.

“The court’s decision should be a review of the record as a whole,” said Auslander.

Judge Marcus replied that the judges had denied Marcoski’s testimony because there was a finding of bad faith. “The district court found that Rant was credible, and Marcoski was not,” he added.

The panel did not indicate when it will rule on the case.

Kenny said he did not know when the 11th Circuit will issue its opinion in this case, but said “given the circumstances” of the case, he did not expect the court to take a particularly long time before rendering its decision.