Norway / Cyprus: Family of missing Marie get Oslo court backing


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The family of Marie Eleni Grimsrud – the young girl who was snatched by her estranged father and who is still missing – have succeeded in getting a court in Norway to recognise her case as an abduction.

The ruling in the Scandinavian country is seen by legal experts as a blow to the efforts of her father – 49-year-old Leif Torkel Grimsrud – to take her legally back to Norway. Legal representatives of the mother had made the motion at the Oslo District Court.

Four-year-old Marie was abducted on April 27 as her mother, 43-year-old Greek Cypriot Lena Ioannou, was dropping her off at nursery in Nicosia. Police say the father had orchestrated the abduction and an international arrest warrant is out against him.

Several people had been arrested at the time but have since been released due to lack of evidence.

Related stories:

Back in July, investigators in Cyprus had said that the six-year-old girl had been sighted with her father on a boat at the Antalya marina in Turkey.

“If Marie is sighted in Norway, then the authorities there will be forced to intervene and get her returned safely to her mother in Cyprus,” said Laris Vrahimis – the lawyer representing the mother in Cyprus.

“We believe we know where Marie is, but we will not be making that knowledge public. We are doing everything we can to get her back.”

If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to or from Cyprus or Norway 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)

Canada: Father’s suicide fuels battle over Divorce Act


Man ordered to pay ex-wife amount twice his monthly income

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The suicide of a young British Columbia father has brought renewed calls for the reform of the decades-old federal Divorce Act and the elimination of an anti-male bias that critics say is rife in the family court system.

Darrin White, a 34-year-old father of four from Prince George, B.C., hanged himself earlier this month after being ordered to make family support payments that amounted to twice his monthly income. His body was found in woods near the University of Northern British Columbia after he disappeared on March 12.

“Darrin White’s death is an absolute tragedy, but entirely foreseeable,” said Liberal MP Roger Gallaway, who co-chaired a high-profile Senate-House of Commons committee into custody and access two years ago. The committee’s report, For the Sake of the Children, recommended many radical changes to the federal Divorce Act, including a new concept called shared parenting, which would automatically give both divorcing parents equal legal rights in the raising of their children.

“Family court judges across this country are being unrealistic,” said Mr. Gallaway, who is urging the federal government to implement his committee’s report. “Darrin White is the most public example yet, but I know of two other men in similar circumstances who have killed themselves.”

Mr. White’s four children are aged five, nine, 10 and 14. His estranged wife, Madeleine, 33, left the family home on Jan. 18 with the couple’s three children. (Mr. White’s eldest child lives with his first wife). Police charged Mr. White with wife assault on the same day. He denied the charge.

Madeleine White, who, according to court documents, is a qualified and certified railroad locomotive engineer, was granted exclusive occupancy of the house by a junior B.C. Supreme Court judge, who also ordered Mr. White to pay $1,071 in monthly child support and $1,000 in alimony. The first $2,071 was due immediately.

The judge said it was unreasonable to expect Mrs. White to return to work, but did not state why.

Mr. White, who had the same job qualifications as his wife, was on stress leave from work and was netting less than $1,000 a month when ordered to make the payments.

Liberal Senator Anne Cools, the most vocal advocate on Parliament Hill for changes to the Divorce Act, says Justice Minister Anne McLellan is deliberately ignoring the recommendations that were tabled more than a year ago.

“Divorce was never intended to force fathers out of a child’s life,” said Ms. Cools. “Mr. White’s death touches us all. It’s a terrible injustice of a young man saddled with a greater emotional burden than he could bear. It’s heartbreaking, but like so many men in this situation, he had no voice, no outlet and no representation.”

“Some fathers in Canada,” she added, “are being exposed to heartless, merciless systematic humiliation.”

According to Health Canada statistics, suicide in younger men has risen dramatically over the past 40 years, but there has been little if any research to find out why. About 80 per cent of suicides in Canada each year are male.

Jeffrey Asher, a specialist in suicide at Dawson College in Montreal, says the increase in suicide corresponds with social change, including the rise of feminism and easier access to divorce.

“The psychological impact of divorce is greater on men,” said Mr. Asher, “because in most cases, women get custody of the children. They get the house and its contents and receive a steady income from the former husband. Men typically get nothing except the myth of shared custody, which invariably means visiting with the children once every two weeks. They are fathers in name, but not fathers in function.”

Mr. Asher says family law and courts are routinely locking fathers out of the lives of their children.

“Courts have decided that fathers are dispensable and replaceable,” he added. “And it’s created huge problems for their children: Bad marks in school, run-ins with police, poor career prospects and teenage pregnancy.”

The justice minister angered many advocates of divorce law change when she responded to the joint committee report last May and said it would take three years to examine the recommendations.

Her spokesman, Stephen Bindman, denies the government is ignoring the issue and said a series of extensive reports is due to be completed within the next few weeks.

“There’s a lot of work under way,” he said, “but there are no quick fixes. The federal government can’t work alone on this.”

Much of the matter falls under provincial jurisdiction.

Ms. McLellan says the government is committed to reform and, last month, disbursed $29 million to the provinces and territories to spend on the family law system.

USA / Texas: Interstate Jurisdiction Cases when a Parent Abducts their Child


Child Recovery Agents Parental Kidnapping

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Parental child abduction is the offense of a Parent wrongfully removing, retaining, detaining or concealing their child from the other parent. This often occurs when parents separate or divorce proceedings begin. The abducting parent may consensually remove or retain the child to gain an advantage in pending child-custody proceedings or because the parent fears losing the child in the divorce proceeding. Many times the abducting parent may refuse to return a child at the end of an approved visit or may flee with the child to prevent the other parent from seeing the child or in fear of domestic abuse.

Many abducting parents try to take the child across state lines (Interstate Jurisdiction issues) or out of the country to make sure that the child will never be found by the other parent. They would rather live a fugitive than lose their child.

Are there any laws to stop this child abduction to another state or country? The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA) provides remedies with valuable enforceable tools in deterring both domestic and international abductions by parents and unethical people or agents on their behalf. This Act empowers courts to impose measures designed to prevent child abduction both before and after a court has entered a custody decree. Unfortunately, the UCAPA has only been enacted in eleven states (Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah) and District of Columbia, since its inception.

In Texas Interference with child custody is a felony!
Texas currently follows the Texas Penal Code 25:03, Interference with Child Custody:

Sec. 25.03. INTERFERENCE WITH CHILD CUSTODY. (a) A person commits an offense if the person takes or retains a child younger than 18 years of age:

(1) When the person knows that the person’s taking or retention violates the express terms of a judgment or order, including a temporary order, of a court disposing of the child’s custody;

(2) when the person has not been awarded custody of the child by a court of competent jurisdiction, knows that a suit for divorce or a civil suit or application for habeas corpus to dispose of the child’s custody has been filed, and takes the child out of the geographic area of the counties composing the judicial district if the court is a district court or the county if the court is a statutory county court, without the permission of the court and with the intent to deprive the court of authority over the child; or

(3) Outside of the United States with the intent to deprive a person entitled to possession of or access to the child of that possession or access and without the permission of that person.

(b) A noncustodial parent commits an offense if, with the intent to interfere with the lawful custody of a child younger than 18 years, the noncustodial parent knowingly entices or persuades the child to leave the custody of the custodial parent, guardian, or person standing in the stead of the custodial parent or guardian of the child.
(c) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) (2) that the actor returned the child to the geographic area of the counties composing the judicial district if the court is a district court or the county if the court is a statutory county court, within three days after the date of the commission of the offense.

(C-1) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) (3) that:

(1) The taking or retention of the child was pursuant to a valid order providing for possession of or access to the child; or

(2) notwithstanding any violation of a valid order providing for possession of or access to the child, the actor’s retention of the child was due only to circumstances beyond the actor’s control and the actor promptly provided notice or made reasonable attempts to provide notice of those circumstances to the other person entitled to possession of or access to the child.

(C-2) Subsection (a) (3) does not apply if, at the time of the offense, the person taking or retaining the child:

(1) Was entitled to possession of or access to the child; and

(2) Was fleeing the commission or attempted commission of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004, Family Code, against the child or the person.

(d) An offense under this section is a state jail felony: Minimum term: 180 days to Maximum Term of 2 years; fine up to $10,000.00

Hopefully, in the near future, more states will adopt the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, but until then, if you think you have a problem with your ex trying to kidnap your child, find out what can be done in your state to stop this before it happens!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding an abducted child please 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)

USA: 3 years after kids vanish, Md. mother wants her charges dropped


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WASHINGTON — Almost three years after Catherine Hoggle’s two young children disappeared, her lawyer has asked a Montgomery County judge to dismiss the three misdemeanor charges against her Thursday.

Hoggle is the last known person to see 3-year-old Sarah and 2-year-old Jacob Hoggle, Sept. 7, 2014. She told conflicting stories to the children’s father and detectives about where the children were.

Since January 2015, after being ruled incompetent to stand trial, Hoggle has been undergoing treatment at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, the state psychiatric hospital. According to her attorney and the children’s father, she has a history of mental health issues, including paranoia and schizophrenia.

During a competency hearing Thursday, Hoggle’s attorney, David Felsen told District Court Judge Sherri Koch he filed a motion to have the charges against his client dismissed.

WTOP was the first to report that Hoggle would seek to get the charges dismissed Thursday.

Hoggle is charged with parental abduction, neglect, and hindering or obstructing the investigation — all misdemeanors.

Felsen said under Maryland statutes, if a defendant is deemed incompetent, misdemeanors or non-violent crimes must be dismissed after three years.

The final of Hoggle’s three misdemeanors was filed Sept. 15, 2014.

Prosecutors with Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office believe Hoggle murdered her two children, and have argued she is feigning mental illness to avoid trial.

Aware of the deadline, prosecutors requested Thursday’s hearing to review the most recent evaluation from doctors at Perkins.

In court, the judge said Hoggle’s treatment team found she remains unable to assist in her own defense, even though they believe she can be restored to competency.

The judge set a Sept. 15 hearing to argue Felsen’s motion.

Outside the courthouse, the children’s father, Troy Turner, said prosecutors have told him they have enough evidence to indict Hoggle for murder, but she has not been charged with that crime.

“My understanding is we’re going to go forward with homicide charges, so it’s not like she’s gonna walk on the 15th,” Turner said.

Turner said prosecutors “feel like they have a strong case, even without bodies.”

Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, “could neither confirm nor deny” prosecutors plan to ask a grand jury to indict Hoggle on murder charges.

Prosecutors and police have never disclosed whether they have gathered any evidence suggesting Hoggle killed her children. Hoggle has told psychiatrists her children are safe.

“There is no allegation that any harm has come to either child,” wrote Felsen in his motion. “The allegations center around the police inability to confirm the whereabouts of Jacob and Sarah.”

Hoggle has attempted to escape from Perkins several times during her confinement, according to prosecutors.

Although it would be theoretically possible for Hoggle to walk free if the District Court Judge dismissed the current misdemeanors against her, prosecutors would almost certainly file other misdemeanors or felony charges to keep her in custody, as they try to determine the fate of the children.

“It is unjust to continue these prosecutions,” wrote Felsen. “These three cases should be dismissed.”

Even if misdemeanor criminal charges are dropped, if a judge believes Hoggle is still a danger to herself or others, she could be kept at Perkins under a civil commitment.

 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding an abducted child please 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)

India / USA: A new American bill causes unease in India


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When cross-country marriages crumble, courts are best suited to chart out a robust legal path by factoring in the sensitivities of all stakeholders

A new bill introduced by the United States Congress has created a kerfuffle in India. The eponymous “Bindu Philips and Devon Davenport International Child Abduction Return Act of 2017” refers to two parents both of whom allege that their kids were abducted by their spouses and taken to India and Brazil respectively and their custodies not handed back to them despite US court’s orders.

The draft legislation proposes economic punitive measures (removal of tariff benefits) for countries that violate US court orders to return abducted children caught in acrimonious transnational marriages.

The bill’s proponents point out that in 2016, 629 American children were taken from the US by one parent without the consent of the other often in direct violation of valid US court orders.

Such abductions, they add, also contravene The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The international treaty, acceded to by 97 countries, establishes procedures for the prompt return of children wrongfully retained or removed from their habitual residence by a parent.

Under the Convention’s rules, applicable to children under age 16, signatories must establish a central authority to trace unlawfully removed children and secure their return to their country of residence, irrespective of the country’s own laws on the issue.

In the absence of pressure from Washington, US lawmakers argue, the rate of return of children to the country has been an abysmal 16 per cent. This has resulted in abducted American children living in a foreign country deprived of half of their family and heritage as well as reportedly suffering from anxiety and other ailments.

The proposed law has ramifications for the sizeable demographic of over two million US-based Indians. More so because inter-parental child removal — by either parent — from one country to another is not defined in any Indian legislation.

In fact the Law Commission of India objects to the very use of the term “child abduction” as it feels the term, when used in the parental context, is misplaced as no parent can ‘abduct’ his or her own child.

Parents take away the child because “of the fear of losing his/her custody”, the Commission states — “such an abduction … is out of overwhelming love and affection and not to harm the child or achieve any other ulterior purpose”.

Criminal offence

Despite pressure from Washington, India has so far refused to sign The Hague Convention, a decision endorsed by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and the Ministry of External Affairs.

While parental child abduction is a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code, because India is not a signatory to The Hague Convention, no foreign government can force the abducting parent or the Indian government to return such a child.

Signing The Hague Convention will also mean capitulating to western forces and accepting a foreign interpretation of law which contradicts the Indian one.

Indian policymakers and legal eagles feel that child custody conflicts are best decided by Indian courts after considering the cultural nuances and what’s best for the child.

Adhering to the Convention would be calamitous for Indian women trying to escape abusive marriages abroad with their children and returning to the safety of their homes in India.

Besides, India becoming a signatory to The Hague Convention will also not benefit its own citizens because instances of Indian children being taken away from India to a foreign country by either one of the child’s parents are few and far between.

Counterproductive move

The Law Commission notes that women involved in cross-jurisdictional divorces have to face additional challenges in the custody battle and that “the woman must not be put in a situation where she has to make the impossible choice between her children and putting up with a violent relationship in a foreign country.”

If the bill becomes law, it will jeopardise the interests of Indian mothers trying to break free of difficult marriages compelling them to return to the foreign country where the child was born, to fight for custody in possibly hostile conditions.

Mothers being charged or prosecuted in foreign lands in such episodes are not uncommon. A report by the Commission notes that 68 per cent of the parents who took their child away from the US were mothers, where 85 per cent of these mothers are the primary caregivers of their children across the globe.

When cross-country marriages crumble, courts must chart out a robust legal path by factoring in the sensitivities of all stakeholders.

Exercising authoritarian and coercive ways to punish mothers fleeing bad marriages, for their own and their kids’ safety, is a counterproductive move.

Neeta Lal, a New Delhi-based editor and senior journalist, has worked with some of India’s leading publications.

f you have any questions or concerns regarding a child abducted to or from India please 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)

 

Canada: Father embraces opportunity to speak with young son for first time in years



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An Alberta man looks forward to reuniting with his son following a separation that lasted more than three years while authorities searched for the boy throughout Central America.

“It was just so huge and exciting to finally get that call we’ve been waiting so long for.”

Chad, whose last name is being withheld in order to protect the identity of his four-year-old child, says the last time he saw his son was in January of 2014.

Chad’s ex-wife, the boy’s mother, sent him a text message indicating she had fled the country with their son and had no plans to return to Canada.

The father was awarded sole interim custody of the 11-month-old and arrest warrants were issued for the woman, whose name is protected under a publication ban, on charges of parental kidnapping.

The woman was tracked throughout Central America but remained on the run for more than three years. Last month, police received information she and her son were living in San Ignacio, Belize. Local authorities apprehended the suspect on charges related to improper immigration documents and she was returned to Canada.

The boy remains in Central America under the care of Belize Human Services. Chad has had an opportunity to speak with his son by phone and video calls.

“It was such an emotional moment for me getting to hear his voice the first time,” said Chad. “Then I even got to see him and that was just so exciting.”

Chad says his son appeared happy and healthy. Plans are underway to reunite the father and son in Canada, despite the boy’s weather-related concerns.

“He’s under the impression that it’s cold up here and it snows all the time in Canada so he’s trying to get ready for the snow,” said Chad with a laugh. “He likes airplanes and he likes flying kites, but he can only do it when it’s windy down there, which is fairly rare.”

“I just reassured him Lethbridge is windy so he’ll get to fly kites up here.”

The boy’s mother has been charged with child abduction and remains in custody. Chad says he would consider allowing his ex-wife supervised visits with their son.

“Her being the only person he has really known for the past few years, it’s not fair to him to just take that relationship away,” explained Chad.

Chad hopes to resume a normal family life with his son at his side. “It’s going to be just a huge adjustment for us here but a really good one.”

The boy’s mother is scheduled to appear in Lethbridge Court on August 15.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a child abducted to or from Canada or Belize please 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)

Canada / Belize: After three years on the run for parental kidnapping, Lethbridge woman arrested in Belize


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An Alberta woman charged with abducting her young son three years ago has been arrested in Belize.

Lethbridge police say investigators received information last month on the whereabouts of a 33-year-old Lethbridge woman and her four-year-old son.

“Over the years, police have tracked the woman to Mexico, Guatemala and various parts of Belize after her ex-husband reported she had fled the country with the couple’s then 11-month-old son and was not planning to return,” the service said Thursday.

An arrest warrant has been outstanding since the mother was charged in 2014.

Police in Belize found the pair in the town of San Ignacio, where the mother was taken into custody and her son was placed in the care of human services. She was deported to the U.S. on Aug. 9 then taken to Canada, where she was arrested by Lethbridge police at the Calgary airport.

The child remains in the care of Belize Human Services and the next step will be getting him back to Canada, where he will be in the care of his father. Police say the child is in good health.

Sgt. Cam Van Roon, the primary investigator on the case, said the investigation spanning multiple countries has been challenging.

“We were really conducting an investigation from what felt like halfway across the world, so it was very challenging that way, trying to garner information both here and try to get some from abroad, and then piece that into what could be real time that could actually be used in Belize,” said Van Roon.

The investigation was launched Jan. 6, 2014, when police responded to a report of child abduction after the mother allegedly failed to drop her son off for a court-ordered visit and a text message was sent indicating they had left the country.

On Jan. 8, 2014, a court order granted the father sole interim custody and ordered the child’s immediate return. The order was sent to the mother and police say they made numerous attempts to contact her.

On Feb. 5, 2014, the mother was charged with child abduction and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Police allege she evaded police over the years by moving around Central America.

The woman, who can’t be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban, has been remanded into custody and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a child abducted to or from Canada or Belize please 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)