Returning Home For a Better Life or Parental Kidnapping?


Parental kidnapping has been an issue many people across the country and the world have had to face. Iraq veteran and New Jersey resident Michael Elias alleges that he has experienced it firsthand.  Elias, who returned home from Iraq three years ago, alleges that upon his return, his former wife told him she wanted a divorce. However, if only Elias could foresee what was to come—an international custody battle with his former wife, who is now living with their two children approximately 7,000 miles away in Japan.

Upon divorce, Elias and his former wife were granted joint custody by a Bergen County Court. In order to prevent either parent from taking the children out of the country, the Court directed that the children’s passports be surrendered. With the children’s passports surrendered and a court order of joint custody, Elias thought he had nothing to worry about. 

However, during a routine exchange of the children a few months later, Elias waited for his children to be dropped off for his parenting time. What he didn’t know what that he former wife and their two children were on a plane to Japan, violating the custody order. Since Elias’s former wife worked at the Japanese Embassy, she was able to get new passports for the children. How did she obtain new passports for the children legally and now that she is in Japan with the children, does it really even matter?

Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention on Parental Kidnapping, so what is Elias supposed to do?… <Read More>

Supervised Visitation Leads to Tragedy

Josh Powell with sons Charlie and Braden

Shortly prior to the tragic death of Charlie and Braden Powell this week, Pierce County Superior Court Judge, Kathryn Nelson, ordered a psychosexual evaluation of their father, Josh Powell, as a requirement of regaining custody of his children aged 5 and 7. According to Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney, Mark Lindquist, the situation may have been untenable to the control-obsessed father: if he refused to take the test, he would lose custody of the children; if he flunked the exam or refused to fully cooperate, he would also lose custody. Sometimes referred to as a sexual-deviancy examination, a psychosexual evaluation is lengthy and intrusive, taking upward of 30 hours to complete. Often used in testing sex offenders who have been civilly committed, the exams assess an individual’s personality, sexual history, potential risk factors and other patterns in determining and identifying possible sexual addictions.

Powell initially lost custody last fall in a battle with the state and his in-laws after his father, with whom he and the boys resided, was arrested on voyeurism and child-pornography charges. These allegations and other revelations about Josh Powell’s upbringing led to the judge’s decision to order the psychosexual evaluation prior to determining whether Powell could regain custody of the two boys.

During a court-ordered supervised visit on Sunday, Josh Powell attacked his children with a hatchet before setting fire to his home. Supervised visitation can be ordered by a judge when there are concerns about the protection and safety of a child in the company of a parent.… <Read More>

Violence in the Courtroom

Everyone knows that divorce law is a very volatile area of practice. In the words of Pat, an attorney in New York City, divorce, death and moving are the most traumatic times in a person’s life. In a Broward County, Florida courtroom, a husband flew into a rage on Friday after Judge Ronald Rothschild ordered him to pay child support and set visitation rights for the couple’s 1-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. He began attacking his wife right in the courtroom in front of the judge and had to be subdued by being shot twice with a stun gun.

“It was surreal,” a witness said. “To see that violence play out in a judge’s chambers is somewhat surreal.”  The wife was taken to a hospital with a broken nose, broken bones in her face and a torn lip. The husband was charged with felony battery, domestic violence and resisting arrest. His bail was set at $1 million. This rage occurred between a couple who was only married 5 years , can you imagine the emotion and rage that could occur between a couple married for 20, 25, 30 or more years?… <Read More>

8 Killed in SoCal over a custody dispute


On Wednesday October 12, 2011, eight people lost their lives at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, California. According to the Los Angeles Times, Scott Dekraai entered the salon in the early afternoon and opened fired on the clientele and workers of the busy salon. Witnesses assert that the people in the salon fell to the floor and sought cover in the bathroom and closets. After Dekraai finished his heartless massacre, he escaped, but was shortly apprehended.

According to the article, it appears that Dekraai entered the salon looking for his former wife, Michelle Fournier. Dekraai and Fournier were involved in a bitter custody battle over the couple’s son.

Unfortunately, these types of atrocious events are not uncommon. On December 26, 2008, a man dressed as Santa Claus killed nine people who were attending a family Christmas party in Covina, California. The murderer, Bruce Pardo later committed suicide.  Like the massacre in Seal Beach, Bruce Pardo was enraged over a contentious divorce and custody dispute with his ex-wife, Sylvia.

Divorce and custody disputes can be extremely combative. Both parties involved have a lot on the line. Unfortunately, people going through these disputes lose sight of what is truly important, their children. Instead, individuals going through these types of disputes allow their anger for their ex-spouse cloud their judgment; sometimes making them do horrible things such as the above-mentioned massacres. In both cases, the children of the divorcing couple lost both of their parents over something that could have been resolved in a civil manner.… <Read More>

How Supervised are Supervised Visits?

On September 27, 2011, 8 children in foster care who were allegedly abducted by their mother about a week before were found in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and returned to the custody of Children’s Services. Their 28 year old mother who allegedly abducted them while at a supervised visitation at a foster care agency in Queens, New York was arrested and is being held on $200,000 bail. She was very emotional when speaking to the media upon her arrest. She claims that she took her children because  they are being abused by their foster parents.  The children’s father was also arrested and actually collapsed while in custody. Full Story:

The 8 children range in age from 11 months old to 11 years old.  If the Queens Family Court believed that ACS proved allegations of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence and ordered all 8 children to be remanded to foster care and only have supervised visits with their parents, then why aren’t the visits actually being supervised? This is not the case where a mother was able to sneak her infant out of a foster care agency, which shouldn’t happen either. Yet, in this case we are talking about 8 children- equivalent to a small troop, class, or daycare group. It is inconceivable that no one saw them leave. The purpose of having supervised visitation arrangements is to protect the safety and well-being of the children, right?  The court has deemed the parents unfit to be left alone with the children, but here not only was the mother left alone, but she had enough alone time to walk out with all 8 children. … <Read More>