Mother’s arrest at D/FW Airport shows difficulties of international custody disputes


19 September , 2014

Source: DallasNews 

Like many divorces, Padmashini and Dean Drees’ breakup in 2004 was bitter.

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There were mutual allegations of abuse, suspicions of infidelity and a nasty fight over custody of the couple’s toddler son, Drew.

But when Padmashini Drees traveled with Drew to India seven years ago and didn’t return, the family’s problems reached the U.S. State Department and the FBI.

Though custody battles tend to be messy, international cases like the one involving the Dreeses can drag on for years. The U.S. Supreme Court has wrestled with at least two disputes since 2012. Clashing legal systems become hurdles for the parents.

The parent left behind has little recourse if a U.S. court order is not recognized in another country. The parent who takes the child abroad in violation of a custody order could face criminal prosecution should he or she ever return to U.S. soil.

The North Texas case appeared to have a movie-script ending July 9, when Dean Drees reunited with Drew, who is now 10. A McKinney police photo showed a smiling father embracing his son.

Officers arrested Padmashini Drees when her flight landed at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. They accused her of abducting her son and put her in jail.

The case is not settled.

Padmashini Drees was released from the Collin County Jail on Sept. 2. Her felony charge of interference with child custody is pending. If convicted, she faces up to two years in state jail.

“Today, Padma has the option of making a comfortable life anywhere in the world,” said her attorney, Scott Mackenzie, in a written statement. “She has chosen to stay in the United States to fight for her son and get the justice that she truly deserves.”

Neither Padmashini Drees nor Dean Drees would speak with a reporter except through their lawyers.

The mother

Padmashini Drees’ life in the U.S. began in the early 2000s as her first marriage, an arranged union, crumbled, her attorney said.

Trained as an architect, she enrolled in a computer-aided design class where she met Dean Drees. The couple married in August 2003 and started a family in a middle-class neighborhood in McKinney.

Dean Drees filed for divorce in October 2004, nine months after Drew’s birth.

In 2006, a court in Collin County granted Padmashini and Dean Drees joint custody of Drew. It also set the boy’s primary residence with his father and ordered his mother to pay child support.

India

Mackenzie said Padmashini Drees, a green-card holder, lived under her husband’s constant threats of deportation.

“In light of that, I can understand why she felt the need to run,” Mackenzie said.

Dean Drees’ attorney, Tiffany Haertling, denied the allegations. She lamented that Padmashini Drees “would choose to continue to inflict hurt and grief on an already unfortunate situation.”

Drew was about 3 years old when his mother took him overseas. They lived in India and also traveled to England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Indonesia and Thailand, according to a court document.

The father

Dean Drees told a Collin County court that he made “continuous efforts” to get his son back for the seven years he was away. He hired private investigator Danny Russell to track down Drew. Russell worked with federal agencies and others to locate the boy.

Dean Drees missed Drew “immensely” and was desperate to find him, Russell said.

“He was a very polite father who was fearful of the worst because he didn’t know what had happened to his son,” Russell said. “He had no contact.”

India is a haven for parental child abductions, said Jeremy Morley, a New York attorney and former co-chairman of the International Family Law Committee of the American Bar Association.

The Asian nation hasn’t signed the Hague Abduction Convention, a treaty that encourages the safe return of children taken from their home countries.

“There is no consistency in the approaches of the Indian courts in these cases,” Morley said, “and the Indian legal system is extremely slow and can be corrupt.”

The U.S. State Department reported 702 parental child abductions from the U.S. to another country in 2013. India accounted for 28 cases, trailing only Mexico and Canada.

Coming home

In December, Padmashini Drees restored Drew’s contact with Dean Drees through video chats. Dean Drees asked his ex-wife to come back with Drew so they could both parent the boy, Mackenzie said.

“Despite the warnings given to her by Indian authorities and other people … she kind of hoped Dean would have mercy on her and try to work with her,” the attorney said.

On July 16, a Collin County court suspended Padmashini Drees’ access to her son as part of the civil custody case.

Her legal team wants to resolve the felony case before pursuing visitation with Drew, Mackenzie said. Padmashini Drees has no intention of taking her son back to India, the attorney said.

Parents should seek proper legal advice instead of trying to resolve custody issues themselves, said Morley, the New York attorney.

“She took the law into her own hands,” he said of Padmashini Drees. “Now she’s paying the price.”

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Ireland – 2 children abducted by parents each week


September 13 , 2014

Source: Irishexaminer

At least two children a week were abducted by parents taking them in or out of Ireland last year.

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Some 109 new abductions were logged with the Irish Central Authority for International Child Abduction during the year, involving 64 children taken out of Ireland and 45 brought here.

There were also 99 new applications involving access and other legal proceedings relating to children at the centre of transnational custody disputes, meaning the total number of new files received rose by 42%.

In addition, there were 138 cases on hand from previous years, meaning a total of 346 cases — the highest-ever handled by the Central Authority which is part of the Department of Justice.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said parental child abduction was a growing problem globally. “Ireland is no different and it is important that we are proactive in working with central authorities in other states in resolving complaints regarding international parental child abductions where they arise,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

As with previous years, a large proportion (49%) of the new applications related to children taken to or from Britain and the North; while 9% involved Germany; 7% Poland; 18% other European countries; and 16% the US.

The remaining 9% involved countries further afield, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Colombia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.

However, that may not reflect the full scale of child abduction as the Central Authority can only work to resolve cases involving countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. Even where both parents are based in signatory countries, the large number of abduction cases carried over from previous years illustrates the difficulty in resolving them.

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Ms Fitzgerald urged estranged parents not to let personal differences become transnational legal battles.

“I would encourage any family to try to resolve their differences before such situations arise and avail of the services available to mediate solutions in the best interest of the children and all those involved,” she said. “The Family Mediation Service is part of the Legal Aid Board and can help families reach agreement without having to resort to court.”

Of the 346 cases processed, 194 related to children taken out of Ireland and in 29 of those it was decided that the children should return to where they had been living.

In 14 of those cases, foreign courts ordered their return and in 15 cases, they were returned voluntarily or an alternative arrangement was agreed by the parents. A further 21 applications were withdrawn and 82 were awaiting resolution by the end of the year.

Of the 152 cases involving children abducted into this country, 74 were unresolved by the end of the year. In 23 cases, it was decided the children should return to where they were living and in 13 of those cases, the return was carried out by consent or voluntarily. A further 21 cases were withdrawn.

See www.legalaid.ie or call the Central Authority for Child Abduction on 01 4790200.

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Parental Abduction – Boy Abducted in Seattle May Pass by SD in Boat: FBI


September 13 , 2014

Source: NBC News

FBI officials are asking San Diegans to be on the lookout for a missing Seattle boy and his father who may pass by the area on their way to Mexico.

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They believe Billy Ginger Hanson, 9, has been abducted by his biological father, Jeffrey Ford Hanson, 46, who may have taken to the high seas with the boy.

Law enforcement is concerned for the child’s safety because they say Hanson is extremely volatile.

Billy was supposed to return to his mother in Pennsylvania on Sept. 4, but he never boarded the flight.

The FBI believes Jeffrey and Billy Hanson may be aboard a white 1976 Cooper sailboat like the one pictured here. King County Sheriff’s Dept.

The FBI says Hanson, a known drug abuser, may be illegally taking his son to Mexico, the San Juan Islands or Tahiti in a 1976 Cooper sailboat with a 6-inchy red stripe along the side. The vessel named “Draco” has a Washington license plate of WN6783NZ.

In case they pass by the California coast, the agency has raised alarms here.

Billy is described as a Caucasian boy with brown hair and brown eyes, weighing 90 pounds and standing 4-feet tall.

Hanson is a Caucasian man with blonde hair and blue eyes. He stands 5-foot-5 and weighs 160 pounds. The FBI has issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of violating the international parental kidnapping statute.

If you know anything about the Hansons’ whereabouts, call the San Diego FBI office at 858-320-1800, the Seattle FBI office at 206-622-0460 or 911.

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Calgary mom alleges ex-husband abducted son, 7, to live in Lebanon


September 12 , 2014

Source: CalgaryHerald 

Layale Khalifeh and her seven-year-old son Jad have a bedtime routine when they’re apart: they look at the moon and imagine the other is doing the same.

Layale Khalifeh

It was a ritual they practised during regular phone calls last month while Jad was in Lebanon with Khalifeh’s ex-husband, Mohamad El-Husseini.

But at the end of August, the phone calls stopped — and El-Husseini hasn’t come back with their son.

Khalifeh now believes her ex-husband has abducted Jad, and has turned to authorities to compel his return.

Amid her frantic efforts to find her son, Khalifeh said she draws some solace in the belief that Jad is thinking of her when he peers up at the moon.

“I know wherever he is, he’s still doing that,” she said Thursday.

Parental abduction cases involving Lebanon can be notoriously difficult to resolve, but Khalifeh said she won’t rest until Jad is back in Calgary.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to bring my son back,” she said.

El-Husseini had taken Jad to Lebanon and returned him without incident since the couple’s separation in 2011 — but what Khalifeh has uncovered in the past 10 days has the look of alleged plan to permanently leave Canada with the boy.

Khalifeh, 33, agreed to let El-Husseini travel with Jad to Toronto, then Lebanon, at the end of July for what he said was a family wedding.

Khalifeh signed a legal consent letter, which specified El-Husseini and their son would return to Calgary on Sept. 1.

The first sign something was amiss was Aug. 26, when Khalifeh phoned El-Husseini to speak with Jad — something she did every few days — and the call cut out.

“Since then, I have continued to attempt to contact him, but have not been able to reach him or our son,” she stated in her affidavit, filed in Court of Queen’s Bench last week.

The allegations in Khalifeh’s affidavit haven’t been proven, but were enough to obtain a court order granting her sole custody of Jad and compelling his return to Canada.

Khalifeh stated in the affidavit she went to El-Husseini’s house on Sept. 1 and no one was there — what’s more, the house appeared vacant.

She also found out another property of El-Husseini’s in Calgary was sold in June.

When Khalifeh called British Airways to see if the airline had any information about her ex-husband and son’s travel plans, she learned El-Husseini cancelled their return tickets last month.

That’s when Khalifeh went to Calgary police.

At the same time, Khalifeh’s parents, who live in Lebanon, contacted El-Husseini’s family in that country and found more disturbing news: the relatives said he quit his job in Calgary.

“(El-Husseini’s aunt) further advised that he had planned to move back to Lebanon without my consent,” the affidavit said.

Calgary police have issued a Canada-wide warrant for El-Husseini, 34, on a charge of abducting a child in contravention of a custody order.

However, the family court order and the Canadian warrant don’t have any authority in Lebanon, which has never signed an international treaty governing parental abductions, known as The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Police and Khalifeh’s lawyer, Andy Hayher, acknowledge the case is challenging to pursue from Canada.

“It’s very difficult in Lebanon to convince a court that a father has abducted his own child,” said Hayer, who is working on the case with a lawyer in Lebanon.

Khalifeh and Hayher have also contacted Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai, who is Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

Obhrai said consular officials in Lebanon will be pressing the case on Khalifeh’s behalf.

Local police, too, are working with counterparts across jurisdictions, such as the RCMP and INTERPOL. In the meantime, Khalifeh is trying to remain strong until she can see Jad, who was supposed to be starting Grade 2 at the Calgary French and International School.

“He’s my life. He’s my everything,” she said.

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There were 64 cases of children being abducted from Ireland last year


September 12 , 2014

Source: thejournal.ie

THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE dealt with 109 new cases of child abduction last year, 45 relating to children entering the country and 64 leaving.

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The department acts as the Central Authority for International Child Abduction and its annual report says that, in total, they dealt with 208 new cases last year.

This total also includes cases of  care orders and access applications as well as international child placements.

Including ongoing cases, the authority dealt with a total of 346 cases in 2013.

The abductions related primarily to suspected parental child abductions according to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

“Parental child abduction is a growing problem globally reflecting the greater mobility of people around the world and all the consequences of this,” she said today.

Ireland is no different and it is important that we are proactive in working with central authorities in other states in resolving complaints regarding international parental child abductions where they arise.

About half of the cases dealt with last year related to abductions to or from the United Kingdom.

Of the 138 ongoing cases of child abduction, 51 were incoming and 87 were outgoing.

Upon the publication of the report, Fitzgerald said that she hoped many cases could be resolved by families themselves but added that, in most cases, legal remedies are required.

“The resolution of issues around parental child abduction is usually by international law,” she said. “But I would encourage any family to try to resolve their differences before such situations arise and avail of the services available to mediate solutions in the best interest of the children and all those involved.”

Fitzgerald advised families that the Family Mediation Service in the Legal Aid Board can help families reach agreement without having to resort to court.

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Disturbing figures reveal Greater Manchester had almost twice the national rate of child abductions and kidnappings


September 10, 2014

Source: manchestereveningnews.co.uk

Police investigated 46 abductions and 20 kidnappings of children across the region between April 2013 and March this year.

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GMP investigated 46 abductions and 20 kidnappings of children across the region between April 2013 and March this year.

Greater Manchester had nearly twice the national average rate of child abductions and kidnappings last year, the M.E.N. can reveal.

Police investigated 46 abductions and 20 kidnappings of children across the region between April 2013 and March this year.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act by charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT), show that in 2013/14, GMP recorded 2.4 incidents of the crimes for every 100,000 people. The national average is 1.3.

There were seven incidents where parents abducted their children. Parental abduction often happens when the couples separate or begin divorce proceedings.

Figures show that more than two children, on average, were abducted or kidnapped every day in England in 2013/14.

The statistics – from 36 out of 39 police forces – show that there were 504 child abductions and 302 child kidnappings between April 2013 and March 2014. In 30 per cent of child abduction cases, the child was abducted by a parent.

Further figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of child abductions across England and Wales rose in 2013/14 for the first time since 2004/05; from 513 to 569 – an 11pc increase.

Child abduction is the act of taking a child away from their family, carer or person who has lawful control of the child without consent or lawful justification. Kidnap is similar, but the child is usually imprisoned.

Stockport MP Ann Coffey, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said: “These figures for Greater Manchester are very disturbing. It must be terrifying for a child to experience abduction or kidnapping. Everything possible must be done to return missing children as quickly as possible.

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“We clearly need to find out the reason why Greater Manchester appears to have a higher number of abductions and kidnappings than some other areas, because it’s not clear to me why that is.”

Geoff Newiss, director of research at PACT said the figures only paint half the picture, with many abductions, particularly by parents, going unreported.

He added: “These new figures illustrate that Greater Manchester is not immune from the problem of abduction. Abduction covers a broad range of offences, including custody disputes, grooming offences, stranger sexual abuse and revenge attacks.

“A number – of all types – of abduction are not reported to the police.”

Commenting on the findings, Detective Superintendent Jon Chadwick, from GMP, said: “Although the figures are higher the national average, the number is still very small within a county that holds a population of just under three million people.

“However, protecting the children of Greater Manchester is one of the Force’s priorities and we take all reports of child abduction seriously, thoroughly investigating each case.”

Charity’s schemes will help protect children

Charity bosses are raising awareness of abduction and kidnap figures to highlight two new resources to protect children – the UK Child Abduction Hub and Child Rescue Alert.

Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT) and Missing People are urging people to make use of the services, with abduction rates rising for the first time since 2004/5.

The UK Abduction Hub, set up with cash from the People’s Postcode Lottery, gives information and advice on child abduction.

Child Rescue Alert allows anyone to sign up to receive free alerts – by text, email or via social media – if a child is taken in their area.

Kate McCann, mother of missing Madeleine, launched the new Child Rescue Alert on International Missing Children’s Day earlier this year.

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Kate McCann (left), mother of Madeleine McCann, and Coral Jones, mother of April Jones, at the launch of the new Child Rescue Alert earlier this year

Bosses say abduction comes in many different forms, of varying severity, and that government statistics do not provide the level of detail required to fully illustrate the risks.

The new services, they say, could save a vulnerable child’s life and are aimed at making sure every family across the fact knows the facts about abduction and kidnap.

 

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Flight from Dulles to Beijing forced to return due to attempted kidnapping


September 5 , 2014

Source: Myfox / ABC News

An international flight, an apparent kidnapping and an unknowing plane full of passengers made for a bizarre scenario Thursday that unfolded 35,000 feet above the ground.

It should have been a routine flight for 180 passengers bound for Beijing Thursday; little did they know they were in the middle of a custody dispute.

The United Airlines flight departed Virginia’s Dulles International Airport at 12:39 p.m. When it reached Canadian air space, the FBI ordered the Boeing 777 back to Virginia after learning a kidnapping suspect was on board.

Flight 897 landed back at Dulles five hours after its departure.

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Once at the gate, passenger Lane Bailey says the pilot made an announcement; the incident stemmed from a child custody investigation. According to law enforcement sources, a child was traveling with his mother.

The child’s father, an American citizen, alerted the FBI fearing the mother was taking the child to China with no plans of returning.

At the airport, the mother was taken into police custody on attempted kidnapping charges. The child was returned safely to his father.

The ordeal soon started to make sense to the passengers onboard.

“The pilot came on board and said we were experiencing mechanical problems,” Bailey said. “After they left, the pilot came back on and said that he deliberately mislead us, he thought that, in his judgment that it was the best thing to do, given the circumstances of potential abduction that that’s the reason we had diverted.”

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The child’s mother, who was arrested on Thursday at Dulles, is expected in court later today.

Had the plane landed in Canada or China and had the FBI, not intervened, the incident may have turned into a protracted international custody battle.

In 2009, David Goldman’s case drew worldwide attention after his son Sean was taken by his then-wife to Brazil.

After a five year legal battle, Goldman gained custody of his then nine-year-old.

Updates from CNN:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation had received an alert that a mother on that flight was allegedly taking her child out of the country illegally, an FBI spokesman told CNN.

Upon the flight’s return “the flight was met by law enforcement including FBI agents and three individuals were removed from the plane to include a grandmother, mother and child,” FBI spokesman Andrew Ames confirmed, via email.

“The mother was taken into custody on suspicion of committing an international parental kidnapping and the child was reunited with the father. The grandmother was not detained.”

The criminal complaint charges that Wenjing Liu, also known as Linda Liu, unlawfully attempted “to remove a child from the United States with intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.”

After separating and starting divorce proceedings in 2013, Liu and William J. Ruifrok III were awarded joint custody of their 4-year-old son, who was born in China and is a dual U.S.-Chinese citizen, the complaint stated. The 2014 custody agreement doesn’t allow either party to travel outside of the United States without “express written and notarized consent of the other party, provided in advance of the trip,” according to the complaint.

In an interview with law enforcement after being removed from the flight, Liu admitted violating the custody order by removing her son from the United States without his father’s consent, according to the complaint.

She made her first appearance in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia on Friday and has a bond hearing scheduled for Monday.

After the aircraft returned to Dulles, United assigned a new crew due to crew flight time limits, and the flight departed again for Beijing at 7:47 pm ET, the United spokesperson said.

CNN’s initial attempts to reach a representative for Liu were not successful.

It’s a federal crime in the United States for parents to take or attempt to take their children out of the United States or keep them out of the country to obstruct another parent’s custodial rights. But while federal authorities may prosecute one parent, they can’t necessarily return a child who is already outside the country to the other parent.

About one quarter of the 1,800 to 2,000 annual missing children reports received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are for international parental abductions, according to Maureen Heads, a supervisor in the center’s missing children division.

The U.S. Department of State tries to return kidnapped children through negotiation, sometimes made easier if the other country is also a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction. The United States and more than 70 other countries have signed the convention, but it only applies if both countries involved are signatories.

“That leaves many countries where there is no partner” for the United States to negotiate with, said Heads. “It can be a real challenge at times for parents.”

China is not a signatory to the convention, which Heads said could have made it harder for the father in the United Airlines case to get his child back.

 

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