How Family Court cases like Wylie vs Wylie provoke fugitive parents


October 6 , 2014

Source: The Australian

Some women who feel betrayed by the Family Court resort to desperate measures. 

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WE had dinner in May 2013, almost a year before the abduction.

Over pasta and salad she said there were dark and terrible things I needed to know about the matter of Wylie v Wylie, the pseudonymous title the Family Court of Australia gave its published judgments in one of the most bitter and complex cases in its 38-year history. “Ms Wylie” was bright, well-spoken and tortured by the belief that her husband, “Mr Wylie”, was sexually abusing their six-year-old twin daughters. She asked if I could help her. I could not.

On June 7, 2013, Family Court judge Justice Peter Tree, “after eight days of trial before me of fiercely contested competing parenting applications relating to the parties’ six-year-old twin girls”, ordered that Mr Wylie have sole parental responsibility for the major long-term care of his children and that Ms Wylie ask her GP for referral to a psychiatrist. “I am satisfied, on the material before me, that the concerns which inevitably would otherwise have flowed from the mother’s notice of abuse, have been sufficiently addressed by the evidence,” said Justice Tree.

That evidence included documents detailing the outcome of an investigation conducted by the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Child Safety into Ms Wylie’s child abuse ­allegations against her husband that found: “Nil physical evidence of sexual abuse indicated through medical examination; nil verbal reports from the children of abuse over four interviews with QPS and Child Safety; verbal report from [one twin] to QPS and Child Safety citing coaching from her mother to make statements.”

On February 14 this year, Ms Wylie sent me a 1549-word email: “I have now seen two psychiatrists, four psychologists and a victims-of-crime counsellor who have all said that I am sane. The father and the Family Court believe I am not, so I just keep being sent to another mental health professional. I believe that this will keep happening until one of them says what the court wants to hear.

“Everything is being done by those who should be protecting my children to protect their abuser, and [the twins] are still forced to live with him.

“One in four children are sexually abused. Only one in 100 pedophiles see the inside of a prison cell. It is not because children aren’t talking, it is that they aren’t believed, and, more often than not, if their abuser is their father, he is given custody.”

On April 1, Ms Wylie sent a message to me that was also sent to Acting Inspector Craig Weatherley of the Queensland Police Child Safety and Sexual Crime Group: “I have tried and tried to have faith that the people who are paid to protect my children would do so. This situation needs to be made very public. It is ­horrifying on so many levels.”

On April 3, Ms Wylie emailed me a photograph of one of her girls. She was smiling, in a red dress, wearing the same kind of purple angel wings that my own seven-year-old daughter wears on occasion. “This is a photo of [her] BEFORE she started bleeding from her rectum and contracting another vaginal infection,” Ms Wylie wrote. “Painfully thin, eyes sunken in her head, and apparently absolutely no need for concern in regards to how well she is being ‘cared’ for. Can you imagine what state she is in now? They say a picture says a thousand words. This is the reality of her life right now.”

Child-abduction

The next day, April 4, Mr Wylie dropped his girls at the gate of the school they attend. It was between 8.30am and 8.40am, the last day of school before the Easter holidays. He watched his daughters walk 30m from the car to the school gate, amid the usual chaos of school drop-off; kids running left and right, parents zipping back and forth. His eyes zeroed in on his children and he said to himself, “Gee, they’re getting big those girls.”

Sometime between entering the school gate and the sound of the morning bell, the girls vanished. The Family Court issued a media release that spread across the country: “Fugitive mother of two [Ms Wylie] remains on the run more than a week after she is believed to have abducted her twin daughters from their … primary school. By now, she could quite literally be ­anywhere in Australia.

“The suspected abduction is unlawful and in breach of Family Court orders which [Ms Wylie] consented to … It is inevitable that someone has seen the trio in their travels, and may even know their present whereabouts. Any assistance knowingly provided to a criminal to avoid punishment is itself a serious crime.

“Their father is deeply concerned and desperately seeking public help.”

Ms Wylie was issued one of the 520 recovery orders made by the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court in the past year, orders that Chief Justice Diana Bryant calls a “last resort” when parents don’t voluntarily return children, or take them on the run.

I went back over the emails Ms Wylie had sent me throughout the past year and my thoughts kept returning to her message of April 1, three days before the abduction. Her desperate course was mapped in two lines. “I have had enough of playing nice,” she wrote. “Following the rules does not work.”

I’m looking at Mr Wylie as he’s talking, ­telling me what it feels like to be a father of two kids still on the run with their mother, five long months after they disappeared. I’m studying his teeth, his hair, his skin and his speech to make foolish and unqualified gut assessments about whether or not he speaks the truth. He will get this for the rest of his life and he knows it. The stain of the allegation. “You have your best friends asking you outright, ‘Tell me now, did you do it or not?’” he says.

He cries when he says this, screws his face up, grits his teeth. The thought has a physical impact on him. “They want to help but they don’t want to be put in a position where they’re supporting someone who is a child abuser.

“One police officer said to me, ‘It’s the easiest allegation to make but the hardest one to prove and if you hate someone enough, that would be the way to go.’”

He pulls a small red rental car into a carpark on Brisbane’s suburban northside, where police have had unconfirmed sightings of Ms Wylie and her two daughters. “We used to live here,” he says. “She knows the area well.”

He pops his boot, takes a block of A4 posters marked, “ABDUCTED/MISSING $10,000 REWARD. For information leading to the location of missing 7-year-old non-identical twins… abducted by non-custodial parent in breach of court orders”. His girls beam in school uniform photos, one daughter missing her two front teeth. He sticks the posters to light poles, public noticeboards; hands them out to strangers.

“I came back to school at 3pm that afternoon to pick them up,” he says. “There were kids coming out and one little girl with her dad says to me, ‘What’s wrong with [one of the twins]? She wasn’t at school today.’ I thought she was just confused.

“Then I went in to where they wait to be picked up and there was no one there. I went up to their classroom and the teacher came out and said, ‘They haven’t been here all day.’” He shakes his head. “That’s not good.”

Tears fill his eyes again. “They found her car and the kids’ uniforms and school bags abandoned in the car about five minutes away from the school,” he says. “I don’t know whether she was waiting there, but, obviously, there’s been a changeover of cars.”

He shows me the text message he sent her immediately that afternoon: “Call me urgently.”

“I knew immediately it was [her]. I thought it was almost inevitable. She was getting to the end of the line. In terms of trying to push that line she was going with. There was no further way she could push it through the court. The only thing that was left for her was to take them.”

Mr Wylie met Ms Wylie in a public gym. They married in 2000, bought and renovated and sold houses in the property boom, travelled and worked through Europe. Their twin girls were born through IVF in 2007, when Mr Wylie was establishing his own small business.

“We had arguments,” he says. “We’d had a bit of conflict — mortgages, business debts. It was the usual thing, money. She had her ideas on business, I had mine. We had differences in parenting. We were fighting after the girls had gone to bed. Eventually I said we should split up.”

The-Branch-of-Divorce-Law

And the war began. Fights over debt, fights over houses, legal fights over custody arrangements, accusations of domestic violence. Then Mr Wylie received a text message from Ms Wylie: “You need to talk to the Department of Child Safety, they’ve got some concerns.” A mandatory report had been made to the department alleging, Mr Wylie says, that one of the twins made a disclosure to an occupational ­therapist: “Daddy hurts me down here.”

A departmental “Assessment of Harm and Risk of Harm”, however, later determined that “the children are at risk of emotional harm as a result of the allegations being made that their father is sexually harming them. Their mother has advised that she was sexually abused as a child and believes that [Mr Wylie] is doing exactly the same things to her daughters. A parent who has been harmed as a child is more likely to display harmful parenting patterns relating to what they were subjected to themselves as a child.

“There is previous child protection history in relation to [Ms Wylie] alleging the girls were being sexually harmed by their father. The outcome of this investigation was Unsubstantiated as [the twin] advised that the rash was caused by her underpants being too tight.

“[Ms Wylie] appears to be experiencing a high degree of stress as a result of her relationship breakdown with [Mr Wylie].”

Mr Wylie sips water at a small cafe before setting off to walk the streets handing out ­pictures of his girls. “It’s vigilantism,” he says. “It’s laughing in the face of the law.”

He looks down at one of his reward leaflets. “The hardest thing to think about is the stuff they’re experiencing right now,” he says. “The fear, the anxiety, the ideas being put into their heads: ‘Daddy’s not safe.’”

In the five months she’s been on the run, somewhere across Australia, Ms Wylie’s story has spilled from the courts into the slaughterhouse of the internet. One men’s rights website has dubbed her a “child abuser, child abductor, fugitive, feminist”. A “Friends of…” website, on the other hand, lists testimonials about Ms Wylie’s character from family and friends, including Professor Ros Thorpe, emeritus professor of social work at James Cook University and president of the Family Inclusion Network Townsville, which considers the interests of both children and ­parents in the child ­protection process.

Almost a year ago, Ms Wylie made an aside to Thorpe, her friend. “It might come to the point where I might have to take off with them,” Ms Wylie said.

“I said to her, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea because the consequences for you will be bad,’” says Thorpe. “I was shocked [but] I wasn’t ­surprised because she’s been tortured by this. I don’t think she’s mentally unbalanced at all. She has no psychopathology. She’s not crazy.”

Thorpe and her long-time friend Dr Freda Briggs AO, emeritus professor in child development at the University of South Australia, had been staunch advocates for Ms Wylie prior to the abduction. They believed her, heart and soul. They still do. They’ve called for a reinvestigation of the case, saying key witnesses — including family members who allege to have heard direct disclosures of abuse by the girls — were not interviewed during the harrowing investigations and court hearings.

Briggs is working on multiple cases of ­mothers who feel betrayed by the Family Court. “Why would these mums give up their jobs, their homes, their positions, their support ­networks and flee with their children if it wasn’t something serious? They are taking the children into hiding to protect them from the parent and the Family Court.”

Briggs analysed interview transcripts from the Wylie case and claimed “inappropriate questioning of the children” by police. “How does a police inspector know what language would have been developmentally appropriate for kids aged four and five?” she says. “It requires great sensitivity and special skill in interviewing young children. You need a child-­focused environment and you are required to spend a great deal of time with the child. Those children were interviewed all over the place, in police stations and in the school office. The police said the father… was safe and that he would never do anything to harm them. No responsible professional would make such a statement because no one can be sure what went on in that home.”

Mr Wylie counters: “Their argument is, ‘Police bullied the kids, they’re not experts in child development.’ Well, the Child Protection and Investigation Unit is specifically tasked with dealing with these issues and questioning these kids. Officers from Brisbane were flown up to interview the kids again, for the fourth time after this complaint was made. These were the best of the best, the head of all the CPI units in Queensland brought his senior detective up, the one who trains all the other CPI detectives. And it was exactly the same outcome. And then the supporters are like, ‘Well, it’s obvious the father is coaching them.’

“That’s what I put to Freda Briggs. I mapped it all out and I said, ‘What more possible investigation could there be?’ ”

Briggs says the case ­highlights a growing problem within Australian family law. “The Family Court was set up for divorces,” she says. “It was not set up for child abuse cases.

“These situations happen so frequently that now family lawyers and the women’s legal services advise the mothers to not tell the Family Court about child abuse because you are likely to be labelled as delusional or malicious and you become the bad parent. The focus goes on the mother and the mother loses the child.

“What we would really like is to be able to get child abuse cases out of the Family Court or ensure that judges or participants are experts in child development and child abuse which, currently, they are not.”

When he retired from the Parramatta Family Court last year, seasoned judge Justice David Collier made a rare public statement about an increase in accusations of child abuse in hostile cases. “I’m satisfied that a number of people who have appeared before me have known that it is one of the ways of completely shutting ­husbands out of the child’s life,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s a horrible weapon.”

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Alastair Nicholson was Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia from 1988 to 2004. “I have a lot of time for David Collier but I wouldn’t put it as strongly as that,” he says. “I think, on the other hand, these fights get very bitter and you certainly will get some cases where that will happen. Of course, the real risk anyone takes who makes a false allegation is that if you make false allegations, and knowingly do so, the court’s very likely to say, ‘Well, you’re really not fit to be a parent of the child because you’ve been prepared to use the child in this way.’ So it may all go very pear-shaped from that person’s point of view. To say nothing of the child.”

A separate specialist court to process such matters is not the answer, according to ­Nicholson. “There’s only so far you can go with this specialist concept,” he says. “You’d go crazy ­hearing these cases all the time. The judge does. You have to have a break from it. I’d be very ­worried about the effect of having a specialist court just dealing with these cases.”

He welcomes, however, a broader system that better connects the long-disconnected ­systems of state and commonwealth. “It’s pie-in-the-sky stuff, but I’ve long thought that instead of having state child protection courts and the federal family court with a child protection capacity, there should be one system throughout Australia because, otherwise, it really doesn’t work very well. There’s more co-operation than there used to be but it’s still not an ideal system.”

Either way, he says, and “despite the determination of individuals, there has to be a stop somewhere” — meaning a legal decision that all parties must live with.

“It is, of course, easy to make an allegation,” Nicholson says. “Of course, you get some outright liars, but in my experience there were a lot of cases where a suspicion had arisen and the person becomes convinced that the suspicion is reality. They’ll blame the systems, they’ll blame the experts, and you always have that ­terrible feeling, ‘Well, maybe they have got it right.’ It’s one of those things that you lie awake at night about.”

Dad, I am so angry right now. I cannot believe that my own father would lie to me for my whole life and just pretend like everything is OK … I will not wait any longer for my psychopathic father to tell the truth. I have already given you more than 10 years … I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t been destroyed by your lies. You NEED TO GET HELP NOW. Don’t end your life living with a lie. Make the most of the rest of your life and get help. You are a very special person to me, make sure you remember that. I will never stop loving you but I absolutely HATE your behaviour.

Abbey [surname withheld]

That is an edited letter written by a 14-year-old West Australian girl to her father in December 2010. In May last year, Abbey ­disclosed to her mother that her father sexually assaulted her repeatedly between the ages of three and seven. In November last year, Abbey took her own life, aged 17.

In 2002, Abbey’s father was charged with the sexual assault of Abbey’s best friend when she was seven. It would take Abbey years to disclose that she, too, had been assaulted by her father with her best friend on regular sleepovers.

In 2005, her father was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, released on parole after two years. Upon his release, despite protestations from Abbey’s mother, the father was granted access visits with his three children by the Family Court of Western Australia. “In my attempts to protect my children, I was treated as a hysterical woman by the Family Court, even though [the father] had been charged with child sexual offences at the time,” Abbey’s mother says. “I was made to look like a vindictive wife instead of what I was, a protective mother.”

She has called on the state government to launch an inquest into her daughter’s death. Meanwhile, national child protection advocate Bravehearts has launched Abbey’s Project in her daughter’s name, calling for and recording exhaustive statements from Australians who have experienced “instances where deficiencies in the Family Court practices, policies and procedures have resulted in children being assaulted and placed at serious risk of sexual harm”, ­culminating in a report to be submitted to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston hopes the project will be “the precursor for a much larger and broader inquiry into the operations of the Family Court of Australia and related child protection organisations and institutions”. She says: “Every week in Australia, the Family Courts are ordering children into contact with, and even into the custody of parents who are dangerous, toxic and abusive because Family Courts do not have the powers, expertise and resources to competently investigate allegations of child abuse.”

Court-ordered contact with her father left a pre-teen Abbey deeply confused, says her mother, seeding the anorexia and self-loathing that plagued her teens. “I know why [Ms Wylie] is running,” says Abbey’s mother. “Because she’s alone. It makes you feel sick. For 10 years I have felt sick. All I was trying to do was protect my kids through the Family Court but I was so alone. No one heard me. And now Abbey’s dead.

“I know why mothers run. I wish I had run myself. Abbey would still be here.”

Ms Wylie’s parents live on a sprawling Queensland cattle property. It keeps them busy; keeps their minds off thoughts about where on Earth their daughter and grandchildren might be. They say their daughter is a resourceful woman, as at home in a tent by a creek bed as she is in a plush hotel suite.

The couple has been receiving counselling through the past five months. “I worry where they are,” Ms Wylie’s mum says. “Are they OK? It gets cold and I think, ‘Are they warm enough?’ I know they’ll be happy with their mother though. She will spend her time trying to make them happy.”

Family Court of Australia Chief Justice Diana Bryant has a far grimmer picture in her head. “Abduction of children always has a detrimental impact on the children,” she says. “First, there is the removal from familiar surroundings, school, friends and family, and especially the other parent. Then there is the subterfuge and hiding and often the adoption of false identities. Children may also be kept away from school to avoid detection.

“In order to live in this situation and where children are old enough to ask questions, a regime of denigration and rejection of the other parent is often necessary to justify the circumstances. This is likely to have a long-term detrimental psychological impact on the children.

“Once located, the possibility that the children could be removed from the abducting ­parent will also be traumatic for them. When a parent abducts a child and goes into hiding, the children will inevitably be harmed and will always be the losers in these situations.”

“The grandparents want the children to live with them,” says Briggs, referring to the Wylie case. “It’s not going to happen, is it? He’ll get the kids back and she’ll go to jail.”

“What do you mean, ‘What if he is innocent?’ ” asks Professor Thorpe. “You mean, ‘How would I react?’ Well, I would find it very hard to believe and accept, just as his supporters find it hard to believe that he has abused the girls.”

Every day, meanwhile, Ms Wylie’s parents finish their day’s work on the farm and then go inside and wait by the phone for news of their daughter. The only way they can communicate with her is through news pieces such as this. “Take care,” her dad says. “And we love you.”

Sometimes the phone rings late in the night, wakes them up. “Hello?” her dad says. “Hello?”

But there’s no response. Only silence.

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Parental Abduction – U.S. Woman Enters Plea in International Kidnap Case


September 30 , 2014

Source: abcnews

A woman accused of abducting her infant daughter from South Carolina 20 years ago pleaded not guilty Monday during her first court appearance after being extradited from Australia.

Dorothy lee barnett

Dorothy Lee Barnett, 54, entered the plea before U.S. Magistrate Bristow Marchant. Her attorney requested that her bond hearing be delayed.

Barnett faces a count of parental kidnapping and two counts of falsifying U.S. passport applications. Authorities allege she did not have custody of her then 10-month-old daughter Savanna Catherine Todd when she took her from South Carolina back in 1994.

Barnett was found in Australia last year where she had been living under several aliases. She fought extradition but was finally returned to the United States last week.

Her attorney, Russell W. Mace III, told the judge he needs time to contact Barnett’s family and friends from out of state and out of the country to come vouch for his client. At a bond hearing a judge decides whether a defendant can be released after weighing whether he or she is a flight risk.

Mace told the judge his client had been back since Friday and he only met her for the first time Saturday.

He told reporters later that he has been in contact with Barnett by telephone since she was arrested and jailed in Australia last November. He would not comment further.

Barnett appeared before the judge in a gray-striped prison jumpsuit and there were shackles on her hands as she signed the court papers acknowledging her plea. She did not comment except to tell the judge she understood both the charges and that she would have to remain in jail at least until the bond hearing.

Conviction on the charges carries a maximum penalty of 30 years.

Authorities said that in 1994, Barnett left for a birthday party with her daughter and never returned. The previous year Barnett had filed for divorce from her husband, Benjamin Harris Todd III, a Bowling Green, Kentucky, native and former Charleston stockbroker.

The daughter has since been living a normal life in Australia, authorities said.

Prosecutors have not yet said just how Barnett was found in Australia after almost two decades.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams, who told the judge the government will oppose bond, would not comment following the hearing.

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Parental Abduction: Mother wins bid not to return with her child to Germany


September 24

Source: The Sydney morning herald 

A woman who unlawfully took custody of her daughter from her German husband has successfully argued in court that she and the child should remain in Australia because returning to Germany would expose her to “psychological harm”.

Australia

The 35-year-old Australian woman travelled to Melbourne from Germany with her 61-year-old husband and five-year-old daughter in December last year to visit her family.

But when it was time to return to Germany, she told her husband she wanted a separation and refused to leave the country.

When the father refused to leave, the woman and her family called the police and obtained an interim intervention order against him.

Soon after arriving back in Germany, the father formally sought return of the child to Germany and launched proceedings for custody, armed with expert evidence that he had “a close and loving relationship with the child”.

However, the mother presented evidence that she had been anxious and depressed since 2007 and this was so severely exacerbated by returning to Germany there was a grave risk her daughter would be “exposed to an intolerable situation”.

“[I] had frequent anxiety attacks, was experiencing feelings of intense fear and worry, my heart would race,” the woman told a psychiatrist of her experience of being in Germany.

She said her husband was “unsympathetic and dismissive” of her illness and, as a result, she had to abandon taking medication or seeking therapy and her condition began to deteriorate.

The woman said she had been a victim of violence and emotional abuse by the father, who drank heavily and tightly controlled her access to the family’s finances.

German football fan

He also allegedly isolated her from her family and made it difficult for her to make friends in Germany.

The husband strenuously denied these allegations and argued that mental health treatment was available in Germany, which would at least enable her to return to take part in a custody hearing.

But Justice Kirsty Macmillan of the Family Court of Australia disagreed.

“I am satisfied … it is not possible to fashion safeguards which would adequately protect the mother from a major depressive episode and ultimately from the effects of a major deterioration in her mental health,” Justice Macmillan found.

This was “likely to impact on the mother’s parenting capacity”.

Her honour rejected demands that the mother returned to Germany, allowing her and the child to remain in Australia.

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Parental Abduction – Changes to Travel Rules for Families Visiting South Africa


September 21 , 2014

Source: expatriatehealthcare.com

South Africa has long been a popular destination for Brits seeking winter sunshine. Each year over 300,000 of us fly out to the Cape in search of better weather, sandy beaches and breath-taking scenery. Unfortunately though, British expats and holiday makers visiting South Africa from October 1st onwards could be in for a nasty surprise.

African Child

In an attempt to tackle problems of child abduction and trafficking, new rules are to be introduced for minors entering the country. Anyone entering the country with children will be required to produce a full birth certificate for each child as evidence of legal parentage.

This is likely to put additional strain on governments around the world to issue – or reissue – birth certificates and thus enable travel. In the UK alone it can take several weeks to receive a birth certificate and this lead time is likely to worsen as demand rises later in the year.

For children who are accompanied by just one parent the rules will be even more draconian. The sole parent will not only require a birth certificate for each child under their supervision but also an affidavit. This must be signed by the other parent authorizing international travel and entry specifically into South Africa.

Child Recovery Services

In cases where neither parent is present – such as school trips – further paperwork will be required. Once again, guardians will need to produce birth certificates and affidavits from the parents of all children. However in addition the guardian must present passports from both parents.

While the new rules have been put in place with the best of intentions by the South African government they are being called a “tourism, PR, economic and political disaster”. The additional paperwork required to visit South Africa in the future will not only frustrate potential visitors but also add to the costs of travel.

In addition the increased demand for such paperwork may cause delays and even holiday cancellations as most airlines are unlikely to allow travel to South Africa before production of the required documentation.

Families considering a future visit to South Africa are strongly encouraged to check the latest travel requirements with their airline in case of changes.

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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.

mckabduct_0711met

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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