Clear, fair rules needed for international divorces


February 11, 2014

Source: Asahi.com

Globalization does not always bring about happy endings.

When an internationally married couple is going through a contentious divorce, in which country’s court of law should the dispute be resolved?

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Currently, there is no clear rule on this matter. All the courts can do is to decide the jurisdiction depending on the case. This situation has long caused huge headaches for those involved.

Belatedly, Japan’s Justice Ministry has asked its advisory body, the Legislative Council, to come up with proposals on the issue. We hope the council will swiftly put together a set of easy-to-understand rules.

According to a survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there were 16,000 divorces in Japan in 2012 involving a non-Japanese spouse. This is twice the figure of 20 years ago, and accounts for 7 percent of all divorces.

In the case of international divorces, the question of which country to seek legal recourse in is an important matter. Going through the legal process in a country with a foreign language and a foreign legal system is grueling work.

Even if the plaintiff is Japanese, there is no guarantee that the arbitration or trial can be held in Japan if the spouse resides in a foreign country. This is because consideration should be given to the spouse who would be the defendant in the case.

In Japan’s current legal system, the tentative basic rule is that court proceedings should be undertaken in the country of the defending spouse’s residence. There have been exceptions, however, when the defending foreign spouse is missing, for example. Japanese courts deal with such cases even if the defendant does not reside in Japan.

In some previous cases when the defendant was not in Japan, Japanese courts went ahead with legal proceedings on the grounds that the divorce approved by a court in the spouse’s country was invalid in Japan.

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The individual situations of each divorce are so varied that setting uniform standards is a difficult process. This has long been considered an international conundrum since countries and cultures have different acceptance levels when it comes to divorce.

Unlike in Japan, where many couples divorce by agreement, divorce by trial is the usual procedure in a number of countries. Some countries basically do not allow divorce.

Given these factors, it would be inappropriate to create a system based only on Japan’s situation. A broad international perspective is necessary.

In recent years, parts of the European Union have attempted to establish common rules about jurisdiction of divorce court proceedings. Under these proposals, initial jurisdiction would be in the hands of the couple’s current country of residence, second jurisdiction would be in the country where the couple most recently lived together, and so on.

We need deeper discourse to decide what rules are appropriate for Japan. We would also have to contemplate sharing those rules with some countries.

The important thing is to establish standards that are as comprehensible and fair as possible to lighten the load of the parties involved and smooth their paths toward restarting their lives after divorce.

This is a cumbersome business, but the number of cross-border marriages and divorces will continue to grow. The endeavors of the legal system must not be left behind by changes in the real world.

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Parental Child Abduction and Parental alienation Syndrome PAS


February 28, 2013

Source: Socialworktoday

Eight Manifestations of Parental Alienation Syndrome

1. A Campaign of Denigration
Alienated children are consumed with hatred of the targeted parent. They deny any positive past experiences and reject all contact and communication. Parents who were once loved and valued seemingly overnight become hated and feared.

2. Weak, Frivolous, and Absurd Rationalizations
When alienated children are questioned about the reasons for their intense hostility toward the targeted parent, the explanations offered are not of the magnitude that typically would lead a child to reject a parent. These children may complain about the parent’s eating habits, food preparation, or appearance. They may also make wild accusations that could not possibly be true.

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3. Lack of Ambivalence About the Alienating Parent
Alienated children exhibit a lack of ambivalence about the alienating parent, demonstrating an automatic, reflexive, idealized support. That parent is perceived as perfect, while the other is perceived as wholly flawed. If an alienated child is asked to identify just one negative aspect of the alienating parent, he or she will probably draw a complete blank. This presentation is in contrast to the fact that most children have mixed feelings about even the best of parents and can usually talk about each parent as having both good and bad qualities.

4. The “Independent Thinker” Phenomenon
Even though alienated children appear to be unduly influenced by the alienating parent, they will adamantly insist that the decision to reject the targeted parent is theirs alone. They deny that their feelings about the targeted parent are in any way influenced by the alienating parent and often invoke the concept of free will to describe their decision.

5. Absence of Guilt About the Treatment of the Targeted Parent 
Alienated children typically appear rude, ungrateful, spiteful, and cold toward the targeted parent, and they appear to be impervious to feelings of guilt about their harsh treatment. Gratitude for gifts, favors, or child support provided by the targeted parent is nonexistent. Children with parental alienation syndrome will try to get whatever they can from that parent, declaring that it is owed to them.

6. Reflexive Support for the Alienating Parent in Parental Conflict 
Intact families, as well as recently separated and long-divorced couples, will have occasion for disagreement and conflict. In all cases, the alienated child will side with the alienating parent, regardless of how absurd or baseless that parent’s position may be. There is no willingness or attempt to be impartial when faced with interparental conflicts. Children with parental alienation syndrome have no interest in hearing the targeted parent’s point of view. Nothing the targeted parent could do or say makes any difference to these children.

7. Presence of Borrowed Scenarios 
Alienated children often make accusations toward the targeted parent that utilize phrases and ideas adopted from the alienating parent. Indications that a scenario is borrowed include the use of words or ideas that the child does not appear to understand, speaking in a scripted or robotic fashion, as well as making accusations that cannot be supported with detail.

8. Rejection of Extended Family
Finally, the hatred of the targeted parent spreads to his or her extended family. Not only is the targeted parent denigrated, despised, and avoided but so are his or her extended family. Formerly beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are suddenly and completely avoided and rejected.

In a recent study (Baker & Darnall, 2007), targeted parents rated their children as experiencing these eight behavioral manifestations in a way that was generally consistent with Gardner’s theory. Parents reported that their children exhibited the eight behaviors with a high degree of frequency. One exception was alienated children being able to maintain a relationship with some members of the targeted parent’s extended family, which occurred in cases where that relative was actually aligned with the alienating parent. This suggests that the context of the contact with the targeted parent’s extended family (that relative’s role in the alienation) needs to be understood prior to concluding whether this component is present in the child.

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Study of Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome
Gardner identified parental alienation syndrome only 20 years ago. However, researchers and clinicians have been concerned about these cross-generational alliances for much longer. For example, divorce researchers such as Wallerstein and colleagues (2001) have noted that some children develop unhealthy alliances with one parent while rejecting the other. Family therapists have observed that, when a child is “taller” than a parent (i.e., able to look down on), it is usually because he or she is standing on the shoulders of the other parent (i.e., being supported by).

Although this problem has long been of concern to mental health practitioners, little research has been conducted on the specific problem of children rejecting one parent due to the overt or covert influence of the other. In contrast to the dearth of research, demand for knowledge about parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome is overwhelming. There are several Web sites devoted to this problem, many of which receive tens of thousands of visits each year. The few books on divorce that discuss this problem are best sellers, and there are several Internet chat groups comprised of anxious parents who fear that the other parent of their child is turning their child against them. Saddest of all are the parents who have already lost their child to parental alienation syndrome and want to know whether they will ever get the child back.

This is the question that guided the current study on parental alienation syndrome of adults who as children had been turned against one parent by their other parent (Baker, 2007). In order to participate in the study, the individuals needed to have been alienated from one parent as a child and had to believe that the alienation was at least in part due to the actions and attitudes of the other parent. Forty adults participated in in-depth, semistructured telephone interviews. A content analysis was conducted. Some of the major themes and research findings relevant to the work of social workers are the following:

Findings

Different Familial Contexts
Parental alienation syndrome can occur in intact families, as well as divorced families, and can be fostered by fathers, mothers, and noncustodial and custodial parents. The prototypical case is a bitter ex-wife turning the children against the father in response to postdivorce custody litigation. That is one but not the only pattern. Mental health professionals should be aware that other familial contexts exist within which parental alienation syndrome can occur so as to avoid ruling out parental alienation syndrome as an explanation because the family context does not fit the prototype.

Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Abuse
Many of the interviewees revealed that the alienating parent had emotionally, physically, or sexually abused them. These data should help put to rest the prevailing notion that all children (in their naive wisdom) will ally themselves with the parent better able to attend to their needs. The people interviewed appeared to side with the parent on whom they had become dependent and whose approval they were most afraid of losing, not the parent who was most sensitive or capable.

Apparent Psychopathology
A related finding is that many of the alienating parents appeared to have features of narcissistic and/or have a borderline or antisocial personality disorder, as well as being active alcoholics. Thus, social workers providing individual therapy with a client who may have been alienated from one parent by the other should be aware of the importance of exploring these other abuse and trauma factors in the client’s early history.

Cult Parallels
Cults offer a useful heuristic for understanding parental alienation syndrome. Alienating parents appear to use many emotional manipulation and thought reform strategies that cult leaders use. Awareness of this analogy can help individuals who experienced parental alienation syndrome (and their therapists) understand how they came to ally with a parent who was ultimately abusive and damaging. The analogy is also helpful for understanding the recovery and healing process.

The research and clinical literature on recovery from cults offers useful ideas for therapists working with adult children of parental alienation syndrome. For example, the way in which a person leaves a cult has ramifications for the recovery process. Cult members can walk away from a cult, be cast out of a cult, or be counseled out of a cult. Those who walk away (come to the realization on their own that the cult is not healthy for them) and those who are counseled out (those who are exposed to a deliberate experience designed to instigate the desire to leave) tend to fare better than those who are cast out (those who are rejected from the cult for failing to meet its regulations and strictures) (Langone, 1994).

Regardless of how the cult is abandoned, leaving represents only the beginning of the recovery process. Considerable time and effort is required (usually in therapy) to process the experience and undo the negative messages from the cult that have become incorporated into the self. The same may be true of adult children of parental alienation syndrome.

Different Pathways to Realization
There appear to be many different pathways to the realization that one has been manipulated by a parent to unnecessarily reject the other parent. Eleven catalysts were described by the interview participants. This represents both good and bad news. The good news is that there are many different ways to evolve from alienation to realization. The bad news is that there is no silver bullet or magic wand to spark that process. For some participants, it was a matter of time and gaining life experience. For others, it was the alienating parent turning on them and, for others, it was becoming a parent and being the target of parental alienation from their own children. For most, the process was just that—a process.

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There were a few epiphanies, but most experienced something like a slow chipping away of a long-held belief system, a slow awakening to a different truth and a more authentic self. Most gained self-respect and a connection to reality and were grateful to know “the truth.” At the same time, they acknowledged that this truth was hard won and quite painful. Once they were aware of the parental alienation, they had to come to terms with some painful truths, including that the alienating parent did not have their best interest at heart, that as children they had probably behaved very badly toward someone who did not deserve such treatment, and that they missed out on a relationship that may have had real value and benefit to them.

Long-Term Negative Effects
Not surprisingly, the adult children with parental alienation syndrome believed that this experience had negative long-term consequences for them. Many spoke of suffering from depression, turning to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, failed relationships and multiple divorces and, most sadly, becoming alienated from their own children later in life. In this way, the intergenerational cycle of parental alienation syndrome was perpetuated.

Wide Range of Alienation Tactics
The adult children with parental alienation syndrome described a range of alienating strategies, including constant badmouthing of the targeted parent, chronic interference with visitation and communication, and emotional manipulation to choose one parent over the other. These same strategies were confirmed in a subsequent study of close to 100 targeted parents (Baker & Darnall, 2006). More than 1,300 specific actions described were independently coded into 66 types, 11 of which were mentioned by at least 20% of the sample. There was considerable but not complete overlap in the strategies identified by the targeted parents with those described by adult children.

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Deputies, DHS worker testify in parental kidnapping case


February 27, 2013

Source: ludingtondailynews.com

Mason County Sheriff’s Office deputies Mike Hanson and Derrek Wilson testified Tuesday morning, the second day of the trial of Mark McCallum, who is charged with parental kidnapping.

Hanson testified about talking to McCallum’s now ex-wife Sharon Kludy and the search for their two young children who were later found with their father in Key West, Florida.

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Wilson testified about searching the couple’s Hamlin Township home, where Mark had been residing prior to his arrest in Florida.

On Monday, the jury was seated and Kludy testified, answering questions from Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Spaniola.

McCallum is representing himself.

Later in the day a Department of Human Services employee testified about allegations Mark McCallum made that his wife had been abusing the children, saying the department made no determination of abuse.

The jury is done for the day.

Mark McCallum made a motion to dismiss the case, but 51st Circuit Court Judge Richard Cooper denied it.

McCallum’s argument included stating his wife knows one of the deputies and that he turned the rest of law enforcement against him.

“I’m not a crazy person,” McCallum told the court.

More witnesses will be called Wednesday.

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International parental child abductions rise with global migration


February 26, 2013

Source: TheStar.com

As cross-border relationships become more common, so do cases involving kids seized and taken to another country. Left-behind parents want changes to the law.
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Stephen Watkins and sons, Alexander and Christopher. Police believe the boys are in Poland.

When a grandfather was found guilty last year of helping his daughter abduct her two boys to Poland, history was made. It was Canada’s first criminal conviction involving international child abduction by a parent.

Outside the Newmarket court where 78-year-old Tadeusz Ustaszewski’s sentencing was taking place, a group of Canadian parents held up signs and photos of their missing children, hoping to draw public attention to the issue of cross-border child abductions by estranged spouses.

Frustrated by legal bureaucracy, countries indifferent to Canadian court orders, and what they say is scant support from the Canadian government, left-behind parents have launched their own advocacy group. They plan to campaign for changes in the law to better detect and prevent child abduction.

“People paint it as a custody matter, but really, these countries have signed the international treaties and do not comply with these treaties.”

STEPHEN WATKINS – FOUNDING MEMBER OF ICHAPEAU

So far, the group involves 13 families and 16 “lost” children. It is part of a growing movement in North America for stronger enforcement of the Hague Child Abduction Convention — a 32-year-old international treaty that deals with the return of children abducted by a non-custodial parent and transferred from one country to another.

“The fact is you have this melting pot of different nationalities. You date people of different nationalities, get married, have children — and they decide to go home,” said Stephen Watkins, a founding member of iCHAPEAU (International Child Harbouring & Abduction Prevention Enforcement Act Under-law).

“People paint it as a custody matter, but really, these countries have signed the international treaties and do not comply with these treaties.”

With the ease of global travel and explosion of Internet romances, the world has become smaller. Romantic relationships — and breakups — that span national borders have become more common.

These relationship breakdowns, often nasty for adults in the same locale, can be even more complicated when children and multiple government jurisdictions are involved.

A 2012 study by Nigel Lowe and Victoria Stephens at the Cardiff Law School in the United Kingdom found that the global number of Hague Convention applications to retrieve an abducted child had risen by 45 per cent since 2003.

According to a U.S. State Department report, the number of new international parental child abduction cases in the United States alone has doubled since 2006, from 642 to 1,135, with the majority of cases involving children taken to one of the convention’s 89 signatory countries.

But the child return rate is far from satisfactory. In 2009, the report said, only 436 children abducted to or wrongfully retained in other countries were returned to the U.S. Of these children, 324, or 74 per cent, were from a convention country.

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“The goal of the convention is to establish clearly defined procedures for the prompt return of children . . . to provide an effective deterrent to parents who contemplate abducting their children,” said the Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention.

“Unfortunately, current trends reflect a steady increase in the number of international parental child abduction cases and highlight the urgency of redoubling efforts to promote compliance with convention obligation and encourage additional nations to join it.”

A left-behind parent can apply through what’s known as the central authority of his or her country to have a wrongfully removed child returned to the place of “habitual residence.”

The parent must provide details of the case in the Hague Convention application, which will then be sent by the central authority to the foreign state to which the child was taken.

Once the application is received, the court in the receiving country must determine if the conditions set out for the child’s return are met and if any exceptions to the return of the child exist.

Canada does not maintain national statistics on the number of Hague Convention applications and number of child returns to the country, said Carole Saindon, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, which oversees the central authority administration in Canada.

“It is important to note that a decision by a court not to order the return of a child does not mean that the convention is not being properly applied in that state,” Saindon said in an email.

“While a left-behind parent may not agree with the child leaving Canada, the situation does not necessarily constitute a wrongful removal or retention for the purposes of the Hague Convention.”

In instances where a left-behind parent is dissatisfied with the result, she said, the parent or the Canadian central authority can raise their concerns with the foreign central authority and attempt to resolve any issues.

However, “where a left-behind parent disagrees with the decision of a foreign court not to return his or her child, he or she needs to evaluate the matter in consultation with private legal counsel,” Saindon said.

The issue of international child abduction is not new, but it received global attention in 2008 with the case of Sean Goldman, the child at the centre of an international legal battle between his American father, David Goldman, and the family of his deceased Brazilian ex-wife, Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro.

After winning his son back in 2009 with a favourable decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court, Sean’s father and his supporters, in the same year, established the Bring Sean Home Foundation, run by volunteers for the campaign to return internationally abducted children.

Most significantly, the foundation has been pushing for the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction, Prevention and Return Act (HR1940) — an inspiration for Watkins, whose sons, Christopher and Alexander, were taken to Poland in 2009 by their mother, Ustaszewski’s daughter, Edyta.

“The biggest reason the convention is largely inefficient is there are no penalties for non-compliance. There are no repercussions for not complying,” said Mark DeAngelis, the foundation’s executive director.

The bill, expected to be introduced to the U.S. Congress in 2013, proposes establishing an Office on International Child Abductions to promote measures to prevent abductions from the U.S., advocate for abducted children and assist left-behind parents in resolving their cases.

Watkins, of iCHAPEAU, said Canada should adopt a similar approach and penalize convention non-compliant nations by delaying or cancelling official visits and scientific and cultural exchanges; withdrawing Canadian development assistance; and restricting travel by their nationals.

“We need to impose sanctions against non-compliant countries,” said Watkins, adding that educating Canadian officials in child welfare and courts to flag at-risk cases is also key to abduction prevention.

Jeffery Morehouse of Bring Abducted Children Home, an advocacy group for American left-behind parents, agrees.

“We need to have an open public discussion of what’s going on,” he said from Washington. “We must step up and be vocal. Enough is enough. We are not going to condone the trafficking of children to a foreign country without recourse.”

More: The tales of four left-behind Canadian parents

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Parental Child Abduction – Organisations for Left Behind Parents


February 24, 2013

By Martin Waage, ABP World Group Ltd.

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Knowledge and support is needed when the other parent abducts your child/children. There are many organisations run by parents of abducted children, that can provide assistance and counselling and give answers on what to do in the critical first hours, days and weeks. They will also be able to help you find a experienced lawyer that specialises in International Child Abduction Cases.

This is a few of them:

Bachome ( United States)

Reunite ( United Kingdom)

CRN Japan ( United States)

Bring Sean Home Foundation ( United States)

Bortført.no ( Norway) 

Bortført ( Denmark)

Australians With Abducted Children ( Australia)

iCHAPEAU Association ( Canada)

SBN Saknade Barns Närverk ( Sweden)

Please let us know, if there are other organisations you think should be on this list.

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Abe tells Obama Japan will join child abduction treaty


February 23, 2013

Source: Japan Today

WASHINGTON —

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday that Tokyo would join a treaty on child abductions, addressing a major concern for lawmakers in Washington.

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Japan is the only member of the Group of Eight major industrialized nations that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention, which requires nations to return snatched children to the countries where they usually reside.

“From the perspective of children, there is an increasing number of international marriages, meaning that there will be some cases where marriages will break down. Therefore we believe it is important to have international rules,” Abe told reporters after talks with Obama.

“We will make efforts in the Diet so that the Convention can be approved. I delivered this message to the president,” Abe told reporters after his meeting with Obama.

However, Abe did not set a timeframe. The previous DPJ government also said it wanted to enter the treaty but did not move ratification through the Diet.

Unlike Western nations, Japan does not recognize joint custody and courts almost always order that children of divorcees live with their mothers.

Hundreds of parents, mostly men, from the United States and elsewhere have been left without any recourse after their estranged partners take their half-Japanese children back to the country.

U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly demanded action from Japan on child abductions, one of the few open disputes between the close allies.

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Parental Kidnapping: Be On The Lookout For These Red Flags


February 22, 2013

Source: Schneider & Stone

Parental kidnapping accounts for the vast majority of missing children cases in this country, and often there are both warning signs and some preventative tips parents may wish to take.

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Of course, sometimes it happens without warning and by parents that others would not have thought capable of such a crime. Divorcing parents should be on the lookout for the following red flags for parental kidnapping:

  • Threats of kidnapping (they must be taken seriously)
  • Mixed religion, mixed cultural marriages
  • Parent has ties, connections or family out-of-state or abroad
  • Parent lacks ties in the current place of residency, is unemployed, self-employed, and/or does not own real estate
  • Parents are in the midst of a contested custody battle (orders of protection may be issued)
  • History of domestic abuse, violence or mental illness

Upon filing a divorce petition, Illinois institutes an automatic stay that prevents either parent from taking the child across state lines without prior approval. However, if you believe your spouse may take your child, there are a few steps to try to prevent such an action:

  • Tell your attorney. He or she can give you advice and bring up the matter before the judge, who should take the allegations seriously.
  • If you have court-ordered child custody and visitation, follow the order exactly. Most parental kidnappings occur out of a parent’s extreme frustration and desperation from not seeing a child.
  • Keep the child’s passport if you can, or if the other parent has it, the court can demand it be held at one of the attorney’s offices while the divorce is pending to prevent the child from leaving the country.
  • Keep a copy of a custody or visitation order with you in the event you need police assistance when exchanging the child in a volatile situation.

Windy City Law Group– Skokie divorce attorneys

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