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>


Role of Attorney for the Child in Cases of Parental Alienation

In October 2007, New York Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye issued an administrative order defining the function of the law guardian as the attorney for the child. Under section 7.2 of the Rules of the Chief Judge, “If the child is capable of knowing, voluntary and considered judgment, the attorney for the child should be directed by the wishes of the child, even if the attorney for the child believes that what the child wants is not in the child’s best interests.” “When the attorney for the child is convinced either that the child lacks the capacity for knowing, voluntary and considered judgment, or that following the child’s wishes is likely to result in a substantial risk of imminent, serious harm to the child, the attorney for the child would be justified in advocating a position that is contrary to the child’s wishes.”

What then is an attorney to do when they represent a child who is the subject of a custody dispute and whom they suspect has been alienated from one parent by the actions of the other parent? In some high conflict custody cases, children will sometimes turn against one parent, without justification. Often a contributing factor of this behavior is the actions of the non-alienated parent who has indoctrinated the child to act in such a manor.… <Read More>