Another Child Abducted

It is becoming apparent to me that a significant part of my law practice revolves around abducted children. I spent this morning in the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver with the single goal of having a six-year-old boy returned to this mother in Tokyo, Japan.

In this case the father was very tricky, lulling mom to think he would not abscond with their son, but he did.

Mom and dad married and lived in Japan for six years. They had a son born in Japan. Towards the end of 2010, the couple separated and mom and dad signed a divorce agreement which provided that their young son would live with his mother in Japan.

As Christmas was beckoning, mom agreed that her husband would travel to British Columbia to spend the holidays with his mother, the child’s paternal grandmother, taking their young boy with him. Mom signed a travel authorization permitting father to take their son to Vancouver with a return ticket and a return date of January 5, 2011.

All went well and the young boy and his father returned to Japan on January 5. Unbeknownst to the mother, the father had filed documents with the Tokyo Court disavowing his consent to the divorce agreement.

Meanwhile, the father carried on as if everything was settled. Because his wife was concerned he might leave Japan again with the child, the father made a show of cutting up the boy’s Canadian and Japanese passports in front of his wife. Later the mother learned that her husband had cut up two expired passports.

The next day father and son were going on an outing to the Tokyo zoo but this was a ruse, as the father took his son straight to the airport and flew to Vancouver with the child’s new passport.

As well, for the Christmas travel, the mother had signed a travel authorization. The father copied the Christmas travel authorization and used it to forge a new authorization that permitted travel to Vancouver and also said that the child would attend school in Vancouver.

The mother went to the Tokyo police and to her Japanese lawyer but they could not help her. In March 2011 she filed a Claim in the British Columbia Supreme Court for orders that her son be returned.

The father hired three different lawyers, each replacing the other and embarked on typical delay tactics. The Court hearing for the return of the child was scheduled in May, August and October 2011 and on each occasion the father sought and obtained an adjournment.

Finally, the matter was heard today and surprise!–neither the father or his lawyer showed up in Court.

The judge heard the evidence and ordered that the child be returned to Japan immediately; that the Court in BC declined to hear the custody matter; and that the matter would be sent back to Japan where the child’s habitual residence had been before his father kidnapped him.

As well, the Court ordered that the police assist to locate and apprehend the child for his return to Japan. It sounds like a wonderful ending, except that we have every reason to believe that the father, in breach of an earlier order that the child remain in BC until the Court hears the case, will not be easily found.

Yes, eleven months after the abduction, the mother finally has the orders she needs. Now all she needs to do his find her son.

Child abduction is the worst form of child abuse and hopefully when the child is located, the police will charge the father with criminal parental abduction under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Regrettably, the punishment for parental kidnapping is almost no punishment at all.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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19 thoughts on “Another Child Abducted

  1. You might call the fathers actions – sneaky…but in reality he was protecting his child from being removed from his life. Please see http://www.crnjapan.net for further information. The japanese “abscond” with thousands of foreign born children every year. The father was probably familiar with this and knowing that the BC courts would protect the child’s rights to know both parents did what was in reality “in the best interest of the child.”

  2. You might not know it, but Japan is a haven for parental child abduction without any legal recourse.
    Once your children are taken from you in Japan or to Japan there is a very good chance you will never see them again. This is probably what will happen to this man.
    BC Supreme Court in Vancouver should study up on family law, or lack of it in Japan.
    My story can be seen at the below link
    http://www.seanandrenee.wordpress.com
    David

  3. David and Eric

    Thank you for your contribution to this discussion. I am well aware of the Japan’s refusal to become a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, despite their recent public relations effort to say they will be signing it “soon”.

    Please go to my archives and read two posts of mine: one dated July 30, 2010 titled “Land of the Rising Sun Promotes Abduction” and the second dated May 22, 2011 titled “Lawdiva Updates: Child Abduction”.

    In the case I write about here, the fact of the matter is that mother, father and child all resided in Japan. It is no excuse to say that I am abducting my child because I don’t like Japanese law. As well, there have been changes to the law of custody in Japan and the focus is on the “best interests of the child” just as it is in Canada and the United States.

    The Court here was also well aware of the current law in Japan with respect to custody as an expert in Japanese family law provided evidence of the new law.

    The parties chose to marry, live and have a child in Japan. Any abduction of a child is wrong. You can’t pick and choose which abduction is OK and which is wrong. They are all the same.

    Child abduction is the grossest form of child abuse. Surely you agree with that?

    • Georgialee,

      While the Japanese state they make decisions “in the best interest of the child” it is nothing like what the USA, or Canada consider “best.” The court in Japan is again nothing like the courts in the USA. In fact the while Japanese court system may make a decision to allow “visitation”, which in most cases is only hours a year, they have no legal means of enforcing their own decisions. Lets say (as it occurs most often) a japanese court decides the father should e able to visit with his child for all of 5 hours a year. All the mother has to do is refuse and there is little to no resource in the family court “system.” Again I suggest you study crnjapan.net to learn about the truth behind the Japanese system and their idea of “best interest.”

    • “Child abduction is the grossest form of child abuse. Surely you agree with that?”

      If you look at this situation you will see that the Japanese system is in fact “State Sponsored Child Abduction.” While I agree that the father should not have take the child without the mothers consent perhaps he was aware of the ramifications of staying in Japan. Japan is signatory to the UNCRC (convention on the rights of the child) but in fact has never upheld it’s conventions. Please watch a short film on this issue (http://www.facethetruth.net), and understand that while it may look as thought the father was breaking the law, it can also be said that he was protecting his chid from a gross violation of the childs rights. In addition Japan is the only country signatory to the UNCERD (UN convention on the elimination of racial discrimination) that has NO LAW against racial discrimination on the books. The Japanese system is stuck in the 15th century and in many cases when people protest systems that remove a persons rights they are seen as “heroes”… but not in this case? Just because this is seen as a “family” matter doesn’t mean it is in anyway an except able practice, and if you consider parental abduction a gross form of child abuse, then State Sponsored Parental Abduction must the grossest form.

  4. It is not that the father “doesn’t like Japanese law”. I am not very familiar with the case, but it is important that children be protected from Japanese family law.

    The father probably knew that it was just a matter of time before he would be totally isolated from his child like thousands of other International parents in Japan.
    I assume he was trying to protect his child from that inevitability.

    Do you have a source for this statement, “As well, there have been changes to the law of custody in Japan and the focus is on the “best interests of the child” just as it is in Canada and the United States”? I am interested in reading it.

  5. Georgialee,

    Love your blog — it’s always a fun read — but you tend to exaggerate when you write about parental child abduction.

    I don’t see how you can seriously claim that “child abduction is the grossest form of child abuse”. There are numerous forms of child abuse that are clearly “grosser”, especially when compared to situations where allegations of child abduction target a child’s parent. Surely you can agree that all forms of physical and sexual abuse are “grosser” than a parental abduction. That is why, in many countries, the removal of a child from an abusive situation is a full defense to an allegation of parental abduction. Is it not so in Canada?

    Your emotional attachment to your clients is commendable, but Eric and David are right to suggest that the unilateral removal of a child from circumstances where the child’s best interests cannot be guaranteed may often be justified.

    Emmanuel Lazaridis, Ph.D.
    Statistician / Legal Professional

  6. I agree that abduction is one of the worst forms of child abuse. I also agree that what this father did was sneaky and reprehensible. I live in Japan. I am divorced and I have almost no access to my son. I am lobbying diet members and talking to government officials to try and change things in Japan so children have access to both parents. This man had what most of us will never have and that is permission from our ex to travel to our home country for a vacation. He violated that trust by lying and trying to keep his son in Canada. If he was thinking about the best interests of his son he would have honored the agreement. All relatives on both sides of the family could have had a relationship with this boy. What ever happens from this point forward will be bad for everyone involved. One side of the family is going to be cut out of this boys life forever (or at least until he is 18). If I ever get permission from my ex to travel from Japan to America. I won’t violate that trust by keeping my son in America. Would I like to spend more time with my son? Yes, absolutely. Would my son be unhappy if he was never able to the his Japanese family again? Absolutely. Is my ex selfish and unreasonable? Yes. But that is hardly any reason to jeopardize my son’s happiness. We all have to learn to deal with the hand we are dealt. How we do that defines us as a person.

  7. Enjoyed reading this, very good stuff, thankyou . “Success doesn’t come to you…you go to it.” by Marva Collins.

  8. Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you, if that would be ok. I’m enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

  9. Hello I am a US woman married in the US, to an Egyptian man, who recently became a US citizen. We are in the divorce process. We have a 3 year old daughter (dual citizen)whom I am fearful he may try to abduct her back to Egypt. Leaving the US by Egyptian passports. I am aware Egypt does not participate in the Hague convention. I need advice on preventitive child abduction strategies. How best can this be prevented? In terms of limiting her ability to leave the US and also in our divorce/custody decree?

    Any and all advice is much needed. This is all very new to me.

    Thank you.

  10. Elle If I was you I would obtain an order that the child’s passport be held by the court or by one of your lawyers, not to be released to the father without a court order. If the divorce is relatively civil, perhaps your lawyers can negotiate an agreement with respect to your child’s passport so that there is no clandestine removal of the child from his/her habitual residence.

    The issue here is one of trust and at this point you do not trust your husband to be honest and forthright with you. Perhaps a counsellor can meet with you both to work through these issues. I must say that if your child is abducted to Egypt the journey to retreive him/her is emotionally and financially draining.

    Do something about it before it happens.

    • Thank you for the response. My main concern is that in most middle-eastern countries, the children are put on the fathers passport. They do not have their own passports. In my case, my husband could go to his consulate, put our child on his foreign passport in a matter of 1 hour and then they can be out of the USA on his foreign passport in a matter of hours. It would then be a matter of the court or my attorney holding both his US and Foreign passports as prevention? In addition to my child’s US passport? Is this possible?

      Thank you

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