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