Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Child Abduction Victory Does Not Signal a Change in Japan’s “Do Nothing” Approach to International Child Abduction

My client, Moises Garcia, may be about to achieve the impossible: bringing a child abducted from the United States to Japan back home from Japan by means of the legal system.

But let no one be mistaken. It was the legal system in the U.S. – and some unusually good luck – that did the trick, not the Japanese legal system.

While Dr. Garcia tried his utmost – and at substantial expense -- to secure the assistance of the Japanese legal system, the courts in Japan did nothing to help him and did everything to hinder his efforts, while paying lip service to his plight.

The Japanese courts purported to acknowledge that he had custody of the child, which he had been awarded in Wisconsin, where the child was born and lived, but then decided that the child should stay in Japan with her Japanese mother because by that time the delays had been such that she had already been in Japan for a significant period of time.

It is reported today that the child's mother has now entered a plea agreement, after having spent several months in jail in Wisconsin, pursuant to which she agrees to have the child returned to Wisconsin by Christmas.

The only reason that this case appears to have had a successful outcome is that the mother left Japan (without the child) and entered the U.S., traveling to Hawaii to renew her green card. She was then arrested in Hawaii because of the actions taken by my client's legal team in Wisconsin.
This case does not signal any change in heart on the part of the Japanese legal system. Anyone who understands what has really occurred here will conclude that the mother would have gotten away with her abduction if she had stayed in Japan.

The Japanese courts are not ready to take any action in any such case and they have never done so. That will not change even when Japan signs the Hague Convention on international child abduction unless and until the entire family law system is overhauled and until Japanese society recognizes that kids are entitled to two parents even if parents are divorced.
The Law Office of Jeremy D. Morley has represented very many parents whose children have been abducted to Japan, as well as children abducted to other countries throughout the world. We also represent many parents who fear that their children may be abducted overseas and seek assistance in preventing a potential abduction. We may be reached at jmorley@international-divorce.com and through www.international-divorce.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Victory in Preventing an International Child Abduction

To the overwhelming elation and relief of our client, a terrified and panic-stricken Chinese mother, we succeeded recently in having a baby intercepted at an airport exit gate as his father was about to abduct him from the United States to India.
Mother’s joy at being reunited with her lost child capped our office’s relentless two-week search.
The family – a Chinese mother, her American husband and their dual national child – were living in China. After an argument between the spouses, the father grabbed the child and threatened to take him to the States. The Chinese police and then the Hong Kong police were completely unhelpful. The father then took the baby to an undisclosed location in the United States. That is when the mother called us from China, desperately scared and frantic.
We got word that the father was in California and with the help of local counsel and others there we secured an ex parte temporary custody order and restraining order in favor of our client.
We assisted the mother to obtain an emergency visa allowing her to fly to the States.
We then learned that the father was in Arizona near the Mexican border and we sought emergency police assistance there.
We then received some information that the father was ticketed for a flight to India. We suspected that India had been chosen because, as we have long warned, India is a well-recognized haven for international child abduction.
Just minutes before the plane left we succeeded in having the police at LAX pick up the child at the departure gate for the flight to India.
And just a few minutes later the child was safely in our ecstatic client’s arms.
The successful outcome resulted from enormous emergency effort in working with courts, police forces across the country, the State Department and other agencies.
It was frustrating, expensive and extremely nail-biting, most especially for the distraught mother.
And we were very lucky.
But the entire process was completely unnecessary.
If the United States would heck who leaves this country we could prevent international child abductions.
Unlike most other countries the United States has no exit controls (with minimal exceptions). Laws that require the United States to impose such controls have never been effectuated.
The measures that exist in the United States to prevent and deter international child abduction are minimal to nonexistent. Those laws that do exist are extremely hard to implement. Court orders barring cross-border travel are routinely violated. Laws that require dual nationals, including children, to possess a U.S. passport when leaving the U.S. are ignored. Amber alert programs are reserved for the most outrageous death-threat type of cases. Police forces don’t want to handle matters that concern child custody issues.
Even when an abduction is clearly in progress the resources that are available to assist parents are negligible.
We control who enters this country but we leave the doors wide open for any to leave – and to take whoever they wish with them, whether that is a child or anyone else.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

U.S. Arrest in Japanese Child Abduction Case

The article below just published in the Mainichi newspaper in Japan illustrates the continuing terrible problems with international child abduction to Japan.
The left-behind father is my client and I will not comment on the case except to say that:

(a) The facts have been utterly distorted and misstated in the Japanese press, which is what usually happens in these cases, and

(b) The Japanese legal system has again proved itself to be entirely dysfunctional in the area of international child abduction, which will certainly not be corrected by Japan’s signature to the Hague Convention.

Mainichi Japan, October 27, 2011

Japanese ex-wife arrested in U.S. on accusation of making off with child

A Japanese woman has been arrested in Hawaii on accusations she took her 9-year-old daughter with a Nicaraguan ex-husband back to Japan without permission, it has been learned.

The 43-year-old Japanese mother and her 39-year-old ex-husband, who lives in the United States, have custody disputes over the child ongoing in both Japan and the U.S. The Foreign Ministry says that it is highly unusual for a Japanese national to be arrested abroad during a custody dispute with a foreign ex-partner.

According to legal officials and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the woman married and bore the child in February 2002. She lived in the state of Wisconsin in the U.S., but in February 2008 she returned to Japan with the child. In June 2009 her divorce was finalized, but the father was given custody rights.

The woman went to court in Japan to have the custody rights changed, and in March this year the court awarded them to the woman, giving the father just 30 visitation days a year in the U.S. Both sides immediately appealed the ruling, and the case is now being deliberated at the Osaka High Court.

The woman flew to Honolulu on April 7, 2011 local time to renew her permanent U.S. resident status. However, an arrest warrant for the woman was on issue from Wisconsin authorities for violating the father's custody rights by taking the child to Japan without permission, and the woman was arrested by Hawaii authorities. She remains in custody, and a trial is ongoing in Wisconsin. Prosecutors suggested a plea bargain where she would be given a suspended sentence in exchange for returning the child, who currently lives with the woman's grandparents in Japan, but she has refused and maintains her innocence.

The ex-husband has reportedly said that if the woman will return the child, he does not want her held further, and he wants the child to be able to meet both parents. A lawyer for the woman, however, says that she fears that if she returns the child once, the child will never be able to come back to Japan.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, records of Japanese international marriages since 1992 show a peak in 2006 of around 44,700, after which they have been declining, with around 32,000 in 2010. On the other hand, Japanese international divorces have increased, peaking at about 19,400 in 2009. International divorces are accompanied by unique problems like differences in national law, children's nationality and parental custody rights, and people leaving the relevant countries.

Professor Takao Tanase of Chuo University's law school says, "The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction's primary objective is to get the child in such disputes returned to the country they were taken from, and therefore civil-level procedures to return the child are prioritized. If the child is returned, criminal legal action is often not pursued. If Japan joins the convention, I think that there will be fewer cases that lead to arrests."