Today, I'm sharing with you a post by Peter Thomas Senese. Peter is a best-selling author and advocate for the prevention of international parental child abduction. As much as I hate to think about atrocities like these, as a parent I feel it is my obligation to do everything possible to help keep all children safe. Awareness is key, so please take a moment to read this and share it. Thank you! - Tamara
Christmas Is High-Season For International Parental Child Abduction
Families that are considered high-risk for international abduction include those where there a strained relationship between individual participants from a cross-cultural marriage (parents born in two different countries) whereas one of the parents has strong ties to another country, and have limited ties (such as financial assets) to the country where they are presently living in with the child and the child's other parent (or in existing divorce or separation cases, when the other parent is actively involved in the child's life).
How It Works
In many instances of cross-border parental child abduction that occur during the holiday season, generally the largest number of incidents takes place when one parent travels to another country with their child or children of a relationship accompanied by, or with the initial consent of, the other parent.
Generally, the travel takes place under a guise of a holiday trip abroad to visit family members of the parent intending to abduct. Of course, the targeted parent is clueless as to what is really going on.
So for example, Father X was born and raised in the Middle East but married Woman Y, who is an American citizen. The couple lives in the United States, where their child was born and raised.
Unknown to the woman in the relationship, the husband wants to end the relationship and relocate back to his country of origin back in the Middle East. However, he has one problem: he knows that his wife will never allow for him to legally take the child with him.
Instead of announcing his true intent to separate, the husband will create critically important misdirection. Meaning, he will do everything possible to make his wife believe that he is happy and committed in the relationship.
Because it is critical that she put her guard down and not suspect any foul play or scheme.
In the meantime, little things - that are really big things - may be taking place visibly or without knowledge of the targeted parent. There are many warning signs to look for, but if the subtleties are not carefully considered, then the would-be abductor will get away with their plan.
The husband who is intending to abduct the child by wrongfully detaining the child abroad will continue to create a facade of being happily married and committed to the relationship while carefully laying out a plan to get the child abroad.
Eventually, and right about this time of the year, the would-be abductor makes the suggestion that it would be 'great' or 'nice' or 'meaningful' to travel abroad together or without the other parent (depending on reasonable circumstances) in order to see his parents, siblings, and extended family. And of course, all of this is in the best interest of the child of the partnership.
Now, since the wife may believe the husband is committed to their relationship and does not even consider that he may have intent to not return to their marital home, she more than likely is willing to consent to the holiday vacation.
Unfortunately for the mother and child, the trip takes place.
Unknown to both, the parent intending to abduct has already hatched a well-thought out plan, including what may be necessary to keep the child abroad while removing the other parent's rights to the child abroad.Everything is deception - and everything must be considered.
For example: the husband may ship certain belongings like a crib or a stroller and other items of the child that may create the appearance the other parent knew he was relocating - and gave consent! Or, he may have begun to move his assets abroad.
Once abroad with his wife and child, the would-be abductor may make false accusations of child or spousal abuse (men and women both claim abuse in cases of of planned abduction), claims of drug use, or any other claim that may indicate that the child is at risk.
By stating the child is at risk, this could potentially allow a local court in the foreign country to grant him immediate custody of the child - even though the child's original jurisdiction is in the country they were born and raised. In addition, in cases where a Hague Application may be filed, the abductor has laid ground for an Article 13 Defense (which revolves around the best interest of the child and is also known as the 'Slander Defense'). In nearly every case of abduction, the parent intending to abduct has cleverly orchestrated a public defamation campaign against the other parent - one that is typically concealed under the veil of anonymity. Additionally, there are malicious and untruthful claims of spousal or child abuse made (by both men and women, equally).
If it sounds complicated, it is.
It is important for individuals married or in a relationship with partners who originate from non-Hague countries such as those located in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to understand that if you are traveling to nations located in these areas and the other parent intends to not return to the child to the country of original jurisdiction, there is a very good chance they will be successful in keeping the child abroad . . . and your contact will be limited or absolved completely. Additionally, it is important to pay careful attention to Hague-Convention non-complying countries such as Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and Poland.
Of course, if you ever plan to travel abroad and have been involved in a suspicious or strained relationship, please contact an attorney who is familiar with international parental child abduction prevention.
Additionally, I strongly advise you consider obtaining a court order prior to travel that the child is to be returned. However, remember - in countries that are not members of international treaties regarding abduction or do not comply to such said treaties - if a child is taken - it will be very costly and difficult to bring your child home.
So - if you have any suspicion that abduction might be planned - and this time of year is the planning period for the high number of Christmas Holiday Abductions that occur - seek the advice of a qualified lawyer - and do not let your child travel abroad under any circumstances.
Please pay attention to the warning signs and act now!
You can learn more about Peter and the I C.A.R.E. Foundation here. Thank you for taking time to read this and please, do share it.