Friday, January 29, 2010
Now, an Australian Institute of Family Studies report confirms that there is a real problem. Our concern is that the problem is often greatly enhanced in international cases.
Children 'at risk' in shared parenting
By Xanthe Kleinig
From: The Daily Telegraph , January 29, 2010.
The practice of splitting child custody equally between divorced parents is being questioned after a major study found one in five parents in the arrangement believed it was not working.
An estimated 90,000 Australian children are in shared-care arrangements under a policy introduced by the Howard government with the support of fathers' rights groups.
But the largest study of the family law system, released yesterday, found a presumption of a 50-50 split was putting some children into violent homes.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland said yesterday a "misunderstanding" that parents were guaranteed equal time under the law was to blame. "Bush lawyers or pub lawyers are providing advice to people going through the system that is wrong," he said.
"We are now in a situation where people have resolved cases where the best interest of children may have not been regarded."
Family laws introduced in 2006 included a presumption of equal parental responsibility, widely interpreted as an even-time split.
But researchers said yesterday parents had agreed to shared care even when they did not have to. Other parents were disillusioned because they were not granted a perfectly equal arrangement.
And violence was not being addressed in court because of the threat of paying full court costs if the allegations were not proven.
Mens Rights Agency director Sue Price said any shift away from equal time was a "disastrous" return to the old-fashioned notion that fathers didn't count.
"It is not good for children not to have both mum and dad in their life," Ms Price said.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies report, which took three years and surveyed 28,000 people, found about one in 20 children in shared care had parents who reported violence as a risk.
"There are significant concerns around the minority of families where there are safety concerns," institute director Professor Alan Hayes said. Where safety concerns were reported by parents, children suffered but they suffered the most when they were in shared care agreements, he said.
But researchers found "overwhelming" community support for the concept of shared parenting.
Ms Price said violence by women was ignored in the three reports released yesterday.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
It provides a practical approach for U.S. lawyers handling international family law matters. It focuses on international marriage and divorce, international prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, international divorce planning, recognition of foreign divorces, international child support and custody, international relocation of children, and international child abduction.
It will also be helpful to lawyers handling international family matters globally.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Currently, the Dutch Central Authority -- which is the part of the Justice Ministry responsible for the implementation of the 1980 The Hague Child Abduction Treaty --acts as the legal representative of the foreign parent when a child is abducted by the Dutch parent to the Netherlands. Under the new law, the Central Authority will only refer the foreign partner to an external lawyer.
The proposed bill accedes to complaints by Dutch parents that the Dutch state takes the side of the foreign parents.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Child abduction is one of a parent's worst fears, and for a growing number of parents around the world, this fear is being realized and compounded by international custody disputes. In many cases, parents abduct their own children when marriages fail and return home where local laws protect them. In some cases the abducted children never see the other parent again.
On July 13, 2003, U.S. Navy Commander Paul Toland returned home to discover his wife had moved out and taken their 9-month-old daughter Erika with her. At the time, Toland was stationed at a U.S. naval base in Yokohama, Japan. His wife Etsuko, a native of Japan who had become a U.S. citizen during their marriage, took Erika and their belongings from the family's home in Negishi Navy family housing to Tokyo and told her husband she wanted a divorce. To settle the matter, Toland says they went to a Japanese court."The big issue that I wanted to discuss, the most important one, was visitation with Erika. When can I see my daughter? When I said I wanted to see Erika on weekends, the judge and the attorneys in the room laughed, and when I asked to see Erika to give her gifts on her birthday, I was told to mail the gifts to my wife's attorney," he said.
Japan is one of several countries that do not recognize joint custody of a child. The parent who does not win custody in a divorce may apply for visitation, but Toland says such rights are rarely awarded in Japan. He says even when the courts grant visitation, the parent with custody has total discretion to decide whether the child can see the other parent. After several months in court, Etsuko received full custody of Erika. Soon after, Toland was transferred back to the United States, where he continued fighting to see his daughter. The situation took a tragic turn in late 2007, when Toland learned his ex-wife had passed away. Toland says Etsuko's death was devastating, but gave him renewed hope that, finally, he would be able to see his daughter. However, Erika was sent to live with her grandmother in Tokyo. Toland says even now, as her only living parent and after spending more than $200,000 in attorney fees, he has no access to his daughter.
International family lawyer Jeremy Morley is based in the U.S. and has handled custody cases in Japan for more than a decade. He says Toland's case is not unique. "There are several cases in which the parent who took the child to a country such as Japan has actually passed away, and the child has been kept by that parent's family in the foreign country. So, the problem is that when the child is kept in a country such as Japan by the family of the taking parent, there's really no way that works to get the child back, even in such unusual circumstances. The family law system in Japan and in many other Asian countries is just not developed," said Morley.
Japanese family law attorney Satoru Kawamoto agrees, adding Japan has rightfully earned a reputation as an international haven for child abduction, a distinction he says the country will keep until it signs the world's main treaty to prevent cases like Toland's. "Currently there is no physical enforcement to bring back the child to the United States, because Japan hasn't ratified Hague Convention, so I think Japan should ratify the Hague Convention," said Kawamoto.The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction has now been ratified by 81 countries.
Attorney Jeremy Morley says that by signing and complying with the convention, countries will both combat and bring attention to this major worldwide concern. "International child abduction is a huge problem, it's growing and it's underreported. People don't recognize the existence of the problem, they don't recognize how terribly serious it is," said Morley.Commander Toland says he hopes no more parents have to experience what he has been going through. And, despite years of disappointment, he says he will never give up his fight for Erika. "I love her and I want to get to know her. I want to get to know my own daughter. I missed a lot of years with her, but I don't want to miss any more. I want to be there for her," he said.Legal analysts say Toland's case will be an uphill battle and under current Japanese law there is little he can do.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The 23-year-old said she was raped by a waiter at a hotel where she was celebrating her engagement to her 44-year-old boyfriend on New Year's Eve.
But when the London couple reported the alleged rape to police, they were arrested for having sex outside marriage and being drunk outside licensed premises, the Guardian said.
The couple, Muslims of Pakistani origin, spent two days in jail and have had their passports confiscated to prevent them leaving until their court case. But the Daily Mail reports the woman has been told that she must drop the rape allegation, admit to being drunk and marry her fiance if she wants to return to Britain.
The British Embassy planned to marry the couple within weeks in the hope lawyers would drop the charges, the Mail said.
"I always dreamed of a big family wedding in Britain, but now I just want to get married so I can get out of here," the 23-year-old is quoted as saying in the The Sun. "I've done nothing wrong but I'm petrified of rotting in jail."
The woman told British papers she felt Dubai authorities were being tougher on her because she was a Muslim. "Sex outside marriage and drinking alcohol are illegal but police are normally lenient with white, non-Muslim foreigners," the Mail said.