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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When Your Ex Emigrates With Your Children


August 4 , 2014

Source: separated dads

The modern world is getting smaller, with more and more people living and working abroad.

It’s no surprise that the number of international families is on the increase but what happens to the kids when these relationships break down and the mother wishes to return to their home country with the child? What rights does the father have?

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Your Rights

If both parents have parental responsibility for a child it is a criminal offence in the UK to emigrate with a child without the permission of the other parent or without an order of the Court. Parents have Parental Responsibility for children in the following circumstances:

  1. The Mother – always has PR
  2. The Father – if he was married to the Mother, or if he was named on the birth certificate and the child was born after 1st December 2003 or if there is a PR agreement stamped by the Court

Outcomes

There are 4 outcomes if one parent wants to take the child abroad to live permanently:-

  1. Permission refused by the Court and the Mother abandons her plans or the child moves to live with the Father
  2. The Mother and child emigrate with the Father’sagreement
  3. Lawful removal of the child by the Mother
  4. Unlawful removal of the child by the Mother

Outcome 1 is self-explanatory but let’s looks at the other 3 outcomes in more detail:

Outcome 2 – Emigrate with Father’s Agreement

Where the parents reach an agreement which permits one parent to move abroad with the child whist ensuring that they maintain a good relationship with the other parent. International travel is much cheaper and often parents agree a schedule of annual contact involving return trips to the UK in the school holidays and weekends and visits by the non-resident parent to the child’s new home. Other forms of contact can be agreed upon such as Skype, telephone, email and Face time.

 

In these circumstances it is always wise to apply to the Court to request an order in the agreed terms to prevent any problems further down the line. A court order may also be required by the immigration authorities if the proposed move is by a non-national who requires a Visa. Depending upon the Country where the child is going to be residing, it may be necessary to obtain a mirror order in the new state reflecting the terms of the English Court order. You cannot assume that Court Orders made here are enforceable abroad. If the move is to an EU country the order would be directly enforceable but unless the English court order expressly retains jurisdiction, it will pass to the new state after 3 months and in theory an application could be made in the new state to vary the agreed terms. If the new home is a signatory to the Hague Convention, the Central Authority in London can assist in enforcing a contact order abroad. If the new home is outside the EU and is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, for example Arab States and the Far East, retaining jurisdiction here or obtaining a mirror order is the best form of protection.

Outcome 3 – Lawful Removal of Child

Where parents cannot agree it is necessary for the parent wishing to remove the child to apply to the Court for permission to do so. If permission is granted, contact will also be ordered. This will then result in the lawful removal of the child. Depending on the child’s destination and whether that country would enforce the English Court order (as in EU Countries) it may be necessary to obtain a mirror order in the new home country to ensure contact is maintained. See above ” 2 .Agreement”

Outcome 4 – Unlawful Removal of Child

Where parents cannot agree and the parent wishing to leave simply takes the child without permission, this is parental child abduction. It is a criminal offence to remove a child from the UK without the permission of the other parent or order of the court (save for where the parent has a residence order and removal is for less than 28 days). If you suspect that your child has been taken abroad you will need to access specialist legal advice immediately. In some cases it is possible to stop a child leaving the country by notifying the ports and airports who will place the child’s details on a watch list. If the child has already left the UK, a lot will depend upon where they have gone and whether that country has an agreement with the UK to return wrongfully removed children. There are unfortunately circumstances where children are not returned which could result in the child losing its relationship with the other parent.

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If you are separated from your child’s mother and these issues arise for you it is important that you obtain specialist advice from a family lawyer with an international background which will enable you to consider the best way forward for you and for your child to ensure your relationship is maintained.

About the Author

This was a guest post written by Louise Halford, a family law Partner at Pannone LLP who specialises in child abduction.

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UK-Russia child abduction still a problem but new law may help


August 1 , 2014

Source: spearswms.com

 

 

With more and more Russians heading to the UK, it’s important to take into account the newly amended Hague Convention on international child abduction. But the UK government still fails to do enough for aggrieved parents

 

 russia_mapThe wheels of international law turn slowly. On 1 October 2011, Russia became the 86th signatory of the Hague Convention of October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, it was only in June last year that the UK recognised Russia’s accession under its own domestic legislation.

With a significant Russian presence in the UK and with an increasing trend of Russian parents placing their children in UK schools, it is important for Russians either coming to the UK or returning to Russia to understand the effect of this recent development.

Research conducted by the Foreign Office suggests that half the UK population think that when a child is abducted it is the responsibility of the government of the country where the child lived to seek and return the child. The stark reality is that little government help is provided and it is up to the parent, at a time of great emotional distress, to instruct a lawyer and pursue recourse via a private application through the court system.

Pictured above: Gentlemen about to discuss the first Hague Convention in 1899, which regulated conduct during warfare.

The convention harmonises the resources from country to country to ensure that children who have been removed from one signatory country to another can be located, apprehended and returned to their parent or guardian in their country of habitual residence, to minimise distress and harm to the child.

Without the convention and the reciprocal legal framework it provides between countries, the return of children can prove more time consuming, costly and ultimately distressing for the child.

Article 3 of the convention states that a child is abducted where:

A) The child habitually resides a country that is a signatory to the convention. The actual nationality of the child or parents is unlikely to be significant in most abduction cases.

B) The child is removed abroad or is being detained there without the permission of their legal guardian in breach of that person’s custody rights.

C) The child is under sixteen years old.

The reality is that harmonising international law is seldom straightforward and the convention is no different. One such difficulty is that the implementation of the convention from state to state can differ in significant ways. Indeed, Hague can conflict with domestic laws.

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For example, in Russia, children can be taken abroad by one parent without written permission from the other but that would be considered a crime in many signatory countries of the convention.

Thus a paradox may be created where a child could be taken from Russia to England by one parent without the consent of the other, but as Russia is now a signatory to the convention, a child who is habitually resident in England but who is taken without consent to Russia would be required to be returned by the Russian authorities to the UK.

It is uncontroversial to say that some signatories are more willing to deploy resources to a child abduction incident that others. Russia, has not fared particularly well in this regard historically.

Last year the European Court of Human Rights decreed that Russia had breached a mother’s human rights under Article 8 (which includes a right for a parent to have measures taken by national authorities to reunite them with their children from whom they have been separated) because it took the authorities three years to reunite the boy with his mother.

Conversely, the first British/Russian convention case was settled in November last year; the Russian courts ordered the return of five- and seven-year old boys to their habitual residence in England after they were taken on holiday to Russia by their Russian father, who then failed to return with them.

The complexities that can arise in child abduction cases, combined with public ignorance of the law regarding the removal of children from a country, and the increasing international demography of the UK, particularly London, makes for a combustible mix of factors.

It is stating the obvious to say that foresight is preferable to an international child abduction battle which can and probably will be emotionally distressing and possibly damaging for the child or children involved. Communication between parents, possibly with legal assistance to clarify parental rights, will be effective to prevent a situation arising where the convention needs to be invoked.

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Japan remains a nightmare when it comes to parental child abductions


December 29, 2013

Source: Vancouver Sun

There are few more heart-wrenching stories than those of parental child abductions. Forget the emotional dynamics that drive ex-wives and ex-husbands to use their children as weapons in an ongoing war. The greatest damage inflicted is on little kids, which is why for the past 35 years all but Japan among the developed countries in the world and dozens of others have signed on to the Hague Convention of Child Abduction.

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The convention requires signatory countries to honour the court orders of other member states. The goal is to protect children’s right to have access to both of their parents.  And while the Hague Convention’s application isn’t always perfect, it’s the best we’ve got so far. Of course, it would be better if more countries signed on and then lived up to both the convention’s letter and spirit.

I’ve written a number of stories, most recently an update on five-year-old Max Kawabata-Morness, who was abducted July 26 by his mother Chie Kawabata. In the column, which follows below, I mentioned that as far as I knew Canada has never put pressure on Japan to either ratify or enforce the Hague Convention.

It turns out I was wrong. Strangely, the correction didn’t come from Prime Minister Stephen Harper or anyone in the Canadian government. The mistake was pointed out by  — Capt. Paul Toland, executive assistant to the deputy surgeon general of the U.S. Navy. Toland’s daughter, Erika, was less than a year old when she was abducted by her Japanese mother in August 2003. His last contact with her was in July 2004.

(Toland’s story is one of five in a documentary of parental child abductions called From the Shadows.)

Toland provided me a link to a 2006 Kyodo News International report on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first meeting with Japan’s then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. Here’s part of what that report says: “Harper, who took office in February, was meeting Koizumi for the first time, took the Japanese delegation by surprise when he brought up the issue of parental child abductions and called on Japan to accede to the Hague Convention.”

Toland also gave me a link to a Japanese government press release from the June 17, 2013 meeting between Harper and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that referenced Harper’s 2006 comments about the Hague Convention and updated him on Japan’s intention to become a signatory.

Of  course, as I noted in my Nov. 1 column, Japan’s enabling legislation appears to have a massive loophole that would allow Japanese judges to reject any foreign court orders regarding children that run contrary to Japanese “custom.”

Here’s the column.

Kris Morness and his son, Max Kawabata-Morness, in Vancouver a few weeks before the five-year-old was abducted by his Japanese-American and taken to Japan.

Kris Morness and his son, Max Kawabata-Morness, in Vancouver a few weeks before the five-year-old was abducted by his Japanese-American and taken to Japan.

Kris Morness spent thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to ensure that his worst fear wouldn’t come true. It was a waste of the Vancouver father’s time, money and effort.

On July 26, his ex-wife Chie Kawabata abducted their fiveyear-old son, Max. A Washington court had previously denied Kawabata’s request to move with Max to Japan, ordering her to remain in Kirkland, Wash., and comply with the court-approved parental order, which included Max having regular visits with Morness in Vancouver and frequent Skype calls.

After Max missed a scheduled Skype call, Morness contacted Kirkland police, who determined that Kawabata had flown on a one-way ticket and had arranged to ship “500 pounds of household goods and personal effects” to Tokyo.

On Sept. 15, King County Superior Court issued a warrant for Kawabata’s arrest on the charge of custodial interference in the first degree, with bail set at $100,000. The prosecutor’s report noted that “the State has serious concerns about the well-being and whereabouts of the five-year-old child as well as the defendant’s unwillingness to follow court orders.”

But Morness’s court orders and even the arrest warrant aren’t worth the paper they’re written on as long as Kawabata stays in Japan.

The arrest warrant is only valid in the United States and there’s no way that a Japanese

court will honour the court orders. Simply put, from a stolen child’s point of view or that of a left-behind parent, Japan is one of the worst places in the world.

There’s no firm estimate of how many Canadian children have been abducted to Japan and not returned, but I know of at least six including Max.

And while Canadian politicians don’t appear to have ever raised this abuse of both human rights and children’s rights with their Japanese counterparts, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama spoke of the more than 120 abducted American kids often enough that Japan’s parliament agreed this Spring that it would ratify the Hague Convention on child abduction. Japan has yet to implement the legislation. And even if it had, while it may meet the Hague Convention requirements, it doesn’t appear to reflect its spirit.

The convention has been in place for nearly 35 years and requires that signatory countries respect and implement each other’s Family Court orders. The goal is to protect children from the trauma of abduction and ensure that children don’t end up stateless without any legal rights.

Before any foreign order would be enforced, a Japanese judge would have to agree to allow it. And that’s no easy thing.

According to information provided to me by the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa, the foreign court where the judgment was made would have to have international trial jurisdiction over the case “based on Japanese standards.”

Additionally, the legislation would only require a Japanese court to enforce a foreign judgment if it and the legal procedures of the foreign court are “not against the manners and customs or public order in Japan.”

So, what is Japanese custom? A year ago, a reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation asked Japanese legislator Masao Ido about parental abductions.

“While Westerners call it abduction, it’s common among the Japanese that a mother and child return to the mother’s parents after a divorce,” said Ido, a member of the judicial affairs committee. “If anything, (the Japanese) think it is not a bad thing. It’s really a custom.”

Ido snatched her own three children after her marriage ended. “Like other parents, I left a note so the other parent knew where the children were and understood that they were in a safe place.”

Morness holds out hope that Kawabata may change her mind and bring Max back. That would seem to be the best outcome for everyone.

But that rarely seems to happen. Like Morness, Richmond teacher Murray Wood spent thousands of dollars trying to get his son and daughter back. His son, who is now an adult, returned to Canada earlier this year after spending nine years in Japan. His daughter remains in Japan.

(Wood’s story is one of five documented in a film called From The Shadows, which is being screened Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Roundhouse at 1181 Seymour Street in Vancouver.) Morness worries every day about Max. But since September and around the time of the arrest warrant being issued, Kawabata agreed to resume Max’s Skype calls with his father.

Morness says the calls seem to be made at Starbucks and the connection isn’t great. The calls are often brief, ending abruptly when he asks questions like whether Max wants to come home.

Morness also isn’t certain whether his son is in school.

Even though Max has only been gone for three months, Morness has noticed that his little boy’s English is more heavily accented than before and the phrasing is a bit off. That’s another huge concern, he says, because English is the only language Morness speaks.

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We Can Recover Abducted Children From Any Country in The World


July 14 , 2013

“After all my years of experience as Worldwide Medical Director for the worlds largest medical assistance company, I found only ABP World Group capable of providing the unique service of non-violent recovery of  an abducted child.

It is very difficult to find a company like ABP World Group that can provide the experience, honesty, integrity, and assets to actually recover an abducted child safely and at a reasonable cost. I hold ABP World in highest regard and recommend them whole heartedly. The world is simply a better place because of the work they do”. 
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From A Child Recovery Operation in Spain – Documented by the Norwegian TV2
Martin Waage, the Managing Director of the internationally recognized security firm ABP World Group, and head of the firm’s international child abduction recovery division is warning parents all over the world that the holiday Season is considered one of the highest periods for international parental child abduction, and that parents, particularly those who are in volatile multi-cultural relationships and who feel the other parent may have intent to illegally leave the country with the children of their relationship must take extra precautions in order to protect their children’s safety.

ABP World Group knows that some countries are seen as Safe Havens for child abductors mainly because of the legal system, but also the fact that to recover a child from many of these countries has been close to impossible. This often combined with a too high risk for all the involved.

If ABP World Group finds the risk extremely high and that launching an operation will lead to personal danger or damages, our personnel will stand down. Instead ABP World Group is ready to start a negotiation process immediately and without any bureaucracy delay. This is most important because time is critical when it comes to any child abduction.

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ABP World Group`s Martin Waage on Russian Channel One about International Parental Child Abduction ( IPCA)

ABP World Groups specialists in the new task force, have formed more than 12 years of experience from IPCA cases in mind. The operators in the task force are the best of the best- Team leaders from many different countries Special Forces units, and are trained to do whatever it takes, wherever it takes, whenever it takes. This means that recovery operations in countries like Japan, Philippines, Middle East and North Africa etc. will be done with a great aspect of safety and success.

ABP World Group will under these operations, use any necessary means and type of logistics solutions ,to be sure that no criminal child abductor should never again feel safe- or out of reach from our justice.

Linked article to ABP World Groups latest child recovery from Japan: Norwegian Child EXTRACTED from Japan thanks to quick work by ABP World Group with assistance from The Japan Childrens Rights Network. 

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Innocents Abroad: The Rise of Cross-Border Child Abduction by Parents


July 2 , 2013

Source: The Huffington Post

In recent years, the world has seemed a more connected place.

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Palm-sized technology has condensed contact between continents while the flow of people across time zones has increased dramatically.

Experience of new horizons – and the different cultures, cuisines and tongues which comes from it – has made for a more cosmopolitan life.

However, official research and the daily caseload of myself and other family lawyers all too often illustrates that there can be negative consequences.

The number of international family disputes requiring the involvement of UK courts has almost quadrupled in the space of only four years, according to a report published by one of this country’s most senior judges.

The data, which was published by Lord Justice Thorpe, who acts as the Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales, showed there were only three new cases of that type handled by the office in 2007. The following year, the total had risen to 65 but by the end of last year, it had reached 253.

Lord Justice Thorpe said that the matters involved child abduction, adoption and forced marriage and were due, he claimed, to “globalisation, increasing movement of persons across borders, and the ever rising number of family units which are truly international”.

His remarks confirm something which is all too apparent to myself and my colleagues atPannone LLP, as we have remarked upon previously.

The comments are also supported by figures released not by the courts but by Government which evidenced what many believe to be at the heart of the trend which Lord Justice Thorpe is witnessing.

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Last year, the Foreign Office published its own figures, illustrating that the number of parental child abductions which it had been called upon to assist in had climbed by 88 per cent in a decade.

It revealed that a specialist unit which it had set up to deal with the problem was getting four calls every day, half of which were turning into new cases.

Of course, it is not only relationships forged by individuals of different nationalities which run into difficulties. However, when these partnerships break down, there is often a natural tendency to return to family and familiar surroundings to recover from any feelings of disappointment or distress.

Where children are involved, such matters become more complicated, especially when one or other partner decides to remove them from the country in which they had been resident.

A country’s incidence of these sorts of cases mirror its ties with other states. The Foreign Office cited parental child abductions involving 84 different nations. According to Lord Justice Thorpe’s report, Poland, Pakistan and Spain were the three places which featured most frequently in the disputes which came to his attention.

Once removed, children are sometimes only returned after a complex process which can be long and drawn out. There can be serious ramifications for the families concerned, both legally and emotionally.

Taking a child out of the country without the express permission of a court or the other parent can be a criminal offence. No matter how comforting the prospect of returning to one’s family overseas might seem once a relationship has broken down the consequences need to be seriously considered.

Sadly, my workload and that of other family lawyers specialising in these cases shows no sign of letting up, regardless of the legal and personal consequences. If anything, the increasingly common nature of international partnerships makes further rises likely.

Given the prominence of Poland in figures from both Lord Justice Thorpe and the Foreign Office, it will be interesting to see whether allowing two other East European countries – Romania and Bulgaria – to live elsewhere across the continent without limitation will further fuel the number of international family units living in Britain and the terrible complications of their breaking apart.

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International Parental Child Abduction in Italy


June 1, 2013

Source: legalsl.com

The parental child abduction under the Italian Criminal Law

The child abduction is a crime under the Italian Criminal Law, even when it is committed by one of the parents.

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Pursuant  to Article 570 of the Italian Penal Code, the person who subtracts to the parent or other guardian, a child under fourteen years of age or an unsound mind, or holds them against the will of the parent or other guardian, shall be punished with imprisonment from one to three years.

A complaint of the parent (or other guardians) is required in order to start a lawsuit against the abductor.

About the international parental child abduction, pursuant to Article 570-bis of Italian Penal Code, unless the fact constitutes a more serious offense, the person who subtracts a child to the parent or other guardian, leading or holding him abroad against the will of that parent or guardian, shall be punished with imprisonment from one to four years.

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If the offense is committed against a child who has reached the age of fourteen and with his consent, the penalty of imprisonment will be from six months to three years.

If the crimes are committed by a parent, the sentence involves the suspension of the exercise of parental authority.

Italy is a member State of the 1980 Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction.

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