Family Court Intervenes in Case of 16-Year-old Girl Removed From Flight to Join Jihad

GEO CASUALBritain’s High Court of Justice has recently been faced with child protection cases that reflect the unfortunate radicalization of young girls exposed to the extreme ideology and values espoused by the self-styled Islamic State.

In London Borough of Town Hamlets v. B (2015) EWHC (Fam) August 21, 2015 the Court considered the case of 16-year-old B. who came to the attention of authorities when she went missing from her home. B.’s mother, acting on information received from B.’s brother, advised police she was about to fly to Syria.

The police arrived just in time to stop the flight, taking B. into custody. Child protections authorities made an application to Justice Hayden to make B. a ward of the court and secure her passport. After the orders were made, the Social Services Department engaged B. and her parents in a dialogue where they discussed purchasing an internet monitoring device, as suggested by the police. B.’s parents agreed to the plan and were fulsome on their support of it, as it would entail B. remaining under their care and control.

However, the proposed plan was abandoned when a search of the family home revealed a plethora of electronic devices which were seized for analysis by Britain’s Counter Terrorism. Pursuant to section 58 of the Terrorism Act, B. was arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences, as were her parents and brothers, offences that carried substantial custodial sentences.

The analysis produced the following material in B.’s possession:

(1) A document headed “44 Ways to Support Jihad” with practical suggestions as to the support of terrorist activity;

(2) Internet searches relating to terrorist manuals and guides to terror activities. That also included queries as to the response times of the Metropolitan Armed Response Team and the Queen’s Guard;

(3) Internet searches as to the preservation of on-line anonymity, including, as confirmed by a police officer at an earlier hearing, the downloading of software to hide the IP address of the user’s computer when on-line;

(4) A downloaded version of “Mujahid Guide to Surviving in the West”. Possession of that document is, of itself, a serious criminal offence. It gives guides to weapon and bomb making and to “hiding the extremist identity”.

On the siblings’ devices were numerous articles urging flight to ISIS territory and recommending its lifestyle, and videos of terrorist training and images of actual beheadings and execution.

B’s parents were in possession of more disturbing and illegal documents and information praising ISIS with additional detailed data regarding terrorism and gruesome videos.

Justice Hayden found the material to be powerful and alarming, stating:

“It is not merely theoretical or gratuitously shocking, it involves information of a practical nature designed to support and to perpetrate terrorist attacks. I have noted already but reemphasise that it provides advice as to how to avoid airport security, particularly for females. In addition, the videos of beheadings and…corpses can only be profoundly damaging, particularly to these very young, and in my judgment, vulnerable individuals.”

Judge Hayden criticized as disingenuous an earlier statement made by the family before the terrorism material and criminal charges were laid, suggesting they were monitoring B. and hopeful that her earlier attempt to flee Britain could now be put behind them.

“We are a very strong family unit and we are doing our very best to help prevent such a situation from reoccurring. We are keeping extremely close eyes on B. and trying to be encouraging of her moving without ridiculing her for her actions to the extent that this incident forever haunts and affects her day to day living.”

The Court concluded that in view of the material found in the home the family statement was an “elaborate and sophisticated succession of lies.”

Ultimately B. was removed from her parent’s custody, while her siblings were permitted to remain, as their indoctrination was not as egregious.

This decision illustrates the observation that the family court system is emblematic of change in life and society, changes that often resonate first in family dynamics, resulting in new challenges for family law judges and lawyers.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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Another High-Net Worth Divorce Begats Financial and Professional Suicide

GEO#1Yes, another divorcing couple who appear to have more money than common sense have captured the attention of the British media.

Aloke Ray a 41-year-old lawyer, and his wife, Charoo Sekhiri, a doctor in her late-30’s, met through an on-line dating service in 2008. They married in 2009 and had a child.

Their once-happy union began to fall apart in 2011 and divorce proceedings began. Instead of dealing with the obvious family law issues, including parenting and financial arrangements, the lawyer and the doctor began to fight over whether their divorce should be handled by the British Courts.

As my regular readers may know, Britain is a divorce jurisdiction that women love and men avoid, at all costs.

Nonetheless, how bad could it be financially for Mr. Ray given their holy matrimony only lasted two years? Apparently, he believed it would be very bad and his wife apparently reacted in kind because to date, this couple have spent over $1.3 million dollars (Cdn) between them in their battle royal.

Mr. Justice Holman recently referred to their “staggering” legal fees describing the total as equivalent to one-quarter of their combined net worth of approximately $5 million dollars.

He also had plenty more to say. He begged them to resolve their differences to avoid the financial suicide they seem bent on inflicting upon themselves.
And he said their “sustained forensic struggle” had been “painful to observe”.

Judge Holman ruled that the British court had authority to hear their case as the couple were “legally domiciled” in Britain, although each was of Indian origin and both presently resided in Singapore.

Domicile, sometimes described as the location a person “intends to live and die in”, is frequently resorted to when jurisdictional issues arise in legal cases.

As for this presumably intelligent couple, they seem to have completely missed what must be uppermost during divorce litigation, namely, an ongoing “cost/benefit” analysis.

Is the money being spent worth the potential outcome, based on a best-case and worst-case scenario?

Finally, why would Mr. Ray want to embarrass his highly respected American law firm, White & Case, where he enjoys an impressive reputation as an arbitrator…. yes, someone who espouses out-of-court solutions? Beats me!

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Mother Forces 14-year-old Adopted Daughter to Become Surrogate

Barrister

“Wicked” is how a judge described an American woman living in Britain, who enlisted her 14-year-old adopted daughter as her surrogate, so she could have a fourth child.

The unnamed woman and her husband adopted two children from overseas and later after the coupled divorced, she adopted a third child.

She then wished to adopt a fourth child, but her application to an international adoption agency was rejected leading her to initiate Plan B, which was a scheme to impregnate her 14-year-old adopted daughter in order that she might have the fourth child she longed for.

The young girl was surprised at the mother’s request but was grateful that she had been adopted and believed that her mother would “love her more” if she acceded to her request.

With sperm purchased by her mother from Cryos international in Denmark, the 14-year-old began injecting herself, with no immediate success and one miscarriage. Finally, at the age of 17 the young girl became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy at a local hospital.

It was there that midwives noticed that the new mother’s mother was unusually rude and demanding  with her daughter, at one point telling her that she could not breastfeed the child as she did not want any “bonding” to occur.

Overhearing this statement, the hospital contacted child protection authorities who interviewed the new mom and removed her, her baby and her siblings from her mother’s home.

The investigation also revealed that the British woman had administered douches containing vinegar and either lemon or lime juice to her daughter, because she believed this would ensure that the new baby was a girl.

The woman had isolated the children, home-schooling them and disallowing her former husband from having contact with them. Apparently, the authorities had been alerted to the unusual circumstances, but on four separate occasions determined there were no child protection issues.

In his judgment, Judge Peter Jackson described the mother as having “an exceptionally forceful personality,” and expressed “an abiding sense of disbelief that a parent could behave in such a wicked and selfish way towards a vulnerable child.”

The woman was sentenced to a five-year prison term.

After the case became public, questions were raised about the ease in which the woman was able to purchase sperm, a matter that was also noted by the judge who said, “there [are] no effective checks on a person’s ability to obtain sperm from Cryos.”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Wives Want Out

A survey of 2000 men and women in Britain reveals that the British divorce rate could be much higher than it is, if wives were assured of future economic security. That’s how 59% of the women surveyed responded to the question “Would you divorce your spouse?”

While statistics are highly manoeuvrable, the consensus among government agencies that track the data is that in Great Britain the divorce rate for first marriages is 40%, while second marriages and third marriages have a 60% and 75% rate of failure.

The United States divorce rates are similar although 50% of first marriages are likely to fail, while 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. Canadian statistics fall somewhere between the United Kingdom and the United States.

So, why are the unhappy British wives staying in their marriages? The survey showed the following:

12% stayed to have an “easy life”
30% stayed to avoid a major upheaval in their lives
37% stayed for the children
42% stayed so they would not lose their homes
33% stayed because they feared if they left they would get nothing
25% stayed because of the cost of legal fees in a divorce

Additional data indicated that 30% of men stay in a “loveless” marriage because they fear losing contact with their children. Were the survey participants open to marriage counselling? Yes, 50% would welcome marital therapy while 20% said they wouldn’t bother.

Surprisingly, 60% of the participants were unaware of mediation as an alternative to a court battle to resolve issues arising from marriage breakdown.

I often remind clients who are weighing the pros and cons of divorce to consider that marriage requires hard work and it doesn’t get any easier the second time around. Like author and marriage therapist Lori Gordon PhD says “Love is a feeling, marriage is a contract and relationships are work.”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang