The children’s mother had custody of her son, age 7 and daughter, age 2 until a judge ordered the children to be transferred to their father’s custody, leaving mom with one hour a month of supervised access. The mother’s “issues”, what ever they be, were plainly reflected in the draconian limitation placed on her time with the children.
And then a plan was hatched: Mother’s parents drove her and the children to a secret rendezvous spot under cover of night where mother, children, and six suitcases were loaded into a chauffeur driven Mercedes for the journey to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris where they hopped on a flight to Costa Rica. They had escaped, or so they thought.
Police investigators naturally began their search for the missing children at their grandparents’ home. The grandparents advised the police that the children had spent the night at their home, but in the morning when they awoke the children and their mother were gone, leaving only a note.
However, their story quickly fell apart when police discovered a text message from granny to her daughter that showed her daughter’s location in the Channel Tunnel enroute to France.
More damning evidence emerged from roadside video that showed the Mercedes and other footage displayed the abducting mother’s vehicle being driven by grandfather back to his home.
Eventually the police learned that mother and children were in Costa Rica and not surprisingly, the children were already on the local constabulary’s radar as it had been reported that the children were wandering through their hotel without supervision, their mother’s whereabouts unknown.
The children’s father’s wife and a social worker arrived in Costa Rica to retrieve the children from an orphanage and return them to England, a task that took almost six weeks to obtain the proper paperwork from local authorities. All tolled, the children’s ordeal lasted two and a half months before they landed on British soil.
Grandma was jailed for 14 months, while her husband, who was less involved, was sentenced to 12 months in prison. Judge John Wait said to the elderly offenders:
“The consequences of this case have been quite awful. You were responsible for some of this but those acts were done out of love and emotion, not for money. You knowingly flouted a court order and told lies in the Royal Courts of Justice.”
Mother remains in Costa Rica but extradition proceedings are pending. You can be sure this mother will receive a lengthy jail sentence once she is back in the United Kingdom.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang
How would you like to marry a billionaire’s daughter? James Casbolt from Cornwall, England made an internet connection in 2009 with Haley Meijer, daughter of American billionaire, Hank Meijer, owner and CEO of a retail conglomerate with his brother, Doug, consisting of 213 grocery and pharmacy stores, 177 gas stations, and other related businesses, located in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Wisconsin.
Their attraction was immediate and mutual.
They moved in together in Cornwall and later moved to the state of Michigan, marrying in 2011. Mr. Casbolt enlisted in the US Army and was posted to Texas whereupon he persuaded Haley to send him sexually explicit photos of herself to fend off his loneliness. She in turn made him promise he would never show them to anyone else.
They later had a child together but domestic violence led to their separation and divorce. James Casbolt was bitter and angry with the demise of his marriage and began a campaign of threats and abuse, writing
“If you are living with another guy, you just gave him a death sentence”.
He also threatened to send suicide bombers to her parents’ home and demanded a large sum of money saying “If my terms are not met, I can tickle the public interest for years, until the Meijers are so infamous in the world they will not be able to walk down the streets safely.”
But he had already released some photos on Facebook, many of them photo-shopped to look seedier than they were.
Casbolt, now living in the UK, also told his ex-wife that he would dedicate the rest of his life to destroying her, that his efforts would be inexhaustible, and he would continue for years. He sent her photos with images of him wielding a sword and a gun. He threatened: “Your dad could be lynched in the street” and sent an email that read:“[£]2M. Put in my bank account. I will then stop talking about the Meijer family.”
In a trial this week in England James Casbolt was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
“You systematically set out to destroy her reputation. Thousands of people with gullible minds saw the photos and doubtless believed the horrible lies you wrote.”
Too horrible to imagine, but over the Christmas season a 16-day old infant in Victoria, B.C. was mauled and bitten by the family pet: a pitbull/rottweiler cross, who had been with the infant’s family for 17 years.
The baby was rushed to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, however, officials confirmed the child would require plastic surgery.
Not surprisingly, the dog was put down by the family…no doubt another source of grief and loss for them.
Animal experts were quick to point out that dogs and babies are a bad mix, depending on the breed of the dog and whether the dog is jealous of the attention paid to the new arrival in the home.
Thankfully the baby survived the physical assault, however, the emotional and psychological aftermath is another issue.
Meanwhile in the United Kingdom Judge Peter Nathan refused to return two children, ages ten and five, to the family home they once shared with their parents and 19 dogs.
The children had been placed in foster care when the court originally ruled that conditions in the home were appallingly “filthy and squalid”. It was reported the children’s mother was investigated by the local SPCA and was subject to a court order that she not keep any dogs for a period of four years.
After three years in foster care the parents applied to have their children returned. However, Judge Nathan determined that although the parents loved their children he would not return them to their care, despite their assurance that once the dog ban was lifted they would only have one or two dogs. The judge simply did not believe them.
The Court referred to the couple’s psychological problems including defiance of authority, paranoia, and an inappropriate interest in media attention.
Sadly their obsession with dogs trumped their common sense in raising healthy children….misplaced passion to be sure.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang
One of the main reasons the middle class is abandoning family courts in droves is because of the bank-draining costs of litigation. While it may appear straight forward to bring a claim for parenting or child support, there are a myriad of legal skirmishes that accompany these claims, that are difficult to predict, and hence, make it impossible to estimate the amount of legal fees for any particular court case.
Typical preliminary court applications that may unpredictably drive up court costs include a challenge to a court’s jurisdiction to even hear and adjudicate a particular case, or a motion to remove a party’s lawyer based on an alleged conflict of interest, before a case gets started.
A wealthy Malaysian couple provide an excellent example of jurisdictional litigation. Dr. Khoo Kay Penn, the multi-millionaire majority shareholder of Welsh textile and fashion company, Laura Ashley, and owner of ten upscale hotels, married former beauty queen Pauline Chai in 1970, a union that produced five children.
The couple have multiple homes located in England, Canada, Australia and Kuala Lumpur. Shortly before the parties separated, they began living primarily in their United Kingdom home, worth a staggering $30,000,000, where they raise alpacas and llamas on a 1,000 acre country estate that has two man-made lakes.
Six months after separation Ms. Chai, age 68, filed a divorce petition in England. British law provides that a party may bring divorce proceedings in England if they have resided in the country for six months, a requirement satisfied by Ms. Chai.
It cannot be a coincidence that England is reputed to be the divorce capital of Europe and a venue that is highly sought after by women seeking a generous property division.
Dr. Khoo Kay Penn, age 74, resisted his wife’s British claims arguing that a court in Malaysia was the proper court to deal with their divorce as they were citizens of Malaysian, not Britain.
Their preliminary battle to determine which court has jurisdiction has already cost them approximately $2 million dollars, an amount one judge of the British court described as “eye-watering”. Mr. Justice Holman also questioned why the couple, who allegedly pay no tax in the United Kingdom, have “squeezed out” more important cases, while paying only a fraction of what it costs to staff and run a tax-payer funded court room.
At a recent ten-day hearing, Dr. Khoo Kay Penn argued that his wife was “forum-shopping” and her status in England was based on a visitor’s visa. However, Ms. Chai emerged the victor, after compiling a mountain of evidence including the fact that her collection of 1,000 pairs of shoes was housed in her English home and not in Malaysia or Australia.
Mr. Justice Bodey accepted that Ms. Chai intended to remain in the United Kingdom and would pay the required $1 million dollar fee to obtain permanent legal status in England. He doubted that Ms. Chai had a 1,000 pair of shoes, but on that point, I certainly believe her!
So on to the real dispute? Not so fast…Dr. Khoon Kay Penn will undoubtedly appeal the jurisdictional decision, and who knows how many other pre-trial battles will yet emerge.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang
A ten-year-old boy from Comox British Columbia, who calls himself Harriette, has gone public with his crusade to reform the law that prevents him from acquiring a new birth certificate to reflect his preferred gender.
Harriette’s birth name is Declan Forrest Cunningham, but he recently announced to his Grade 5 teacher and classmates that he is transgendered and lives as a girl, with the full support of his family, who decry the Canadian bureaucracy that refuse to issue him new identification.
Harriette could be a poster child for a debate that is brewing over the treatment of children who are confused about their gender.
Picture a little boy in a pink tutu, fairy wings and ballet pumps. Now imagine that boy being treated with hormone-blocking drugs in a clinic established to diagnose and treat children who believe they were born in the wrong body.
Gender Identity Syndrome, first identified by the American Psychiatric Association in the 1990’s, has spawned a new industry, one where children as young as five, are receiving puberty suppressing injections, despite a paucity of research with respect to the side effects or medical dangers that may accompany these treatments.
At Tavistock Clinic in the United Kingdom over 165 children are being treated by the clinic’s team of social workers and child therapists. Seven of these children are under the age of five, despite Tavistock’s own research that indicates that up to 80% of these children will change their minds about living in the wrong body, once they reach adolescence.
Nonetheless, proponents of hormone therapy believe the treatment is worthwhile to prevent the mental distress these children will experience as their bodies mature. The treatment is also said to be beneficial to those children who will eventually have gender-changing surgery. Others say the treatment reduces suicide and self-harm rates.
Contrary opinions abound. Professor Russell Viner, a hormone specialist at London’s Institute of Child Health believes the impact on a child’s developing bones and brain has not been ascertained and warns of the potential danger. He notes the drugs reduce a patient’s fertility level.
Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a world authority on gender issues, with a Toronto clinic, is opposed to hormonal treatments for children. He says:
“Suppose you saw a black kid that wanted to be white. Wouldn’t you try to understand what was happening…You certainly wouldn’t recommend skin-bleaching.”
He says that gender confusion is an issue of nurture, not nature and believes dysfunctional families or cultural backgrounds play an important role. Other experts say that children confused about their gender may have experienced sexual abuse or have psychiatric ailments and need psychotherapy, not drugs, and not sexual reassignment surgery.
While it is reported that most adults who complete sex-change surgery are happy with their new lives, for others the surgery is anything but positive.
After allegations were made in 2009, psychiatrist Dr. Trudy Kennedy of the Monash Gender Dysphoria Clinic in Melbourne, Australia was forced to close her clinic for a time, while she dealt with numerous complaints and three lawsuits alleging negligence and faulty diagnosis.
Certainly the medical and ethical issues of prescribing intrusive treatments on vulnerable children requires more intense scrutiny than it has received to date.
While the Cunningham family believe their young son’s passion to find justice for himself is laudable, they ignore the potentially negative consequences of his public campaign. He is a child in his formative years who deserves to develop and mature away from the prying eyes of the media. If I was cynical I would say that it is his parents that seek the spotlight…another reality TV show?
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang
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
In the last decade, courts around the world have seen a proliferation of parental child abduction cases. Perhaps this can be accounted for by our increasingly global community, or is it a sign that families are increasingly disintegrating and some parents are willing to take draconian steps to ensure they get what they want… in abduction cases, it is the children, of course.
Today a case will be heard by the British Supreme Court involving an arranged marriage, four children, and a battle between a mother in England and her husband in Pakistan.
It began when a young woman entered into an arranged marriage with her cousin and moved to the United Kingdom. The couple had three children, all born in England.
Unfortunately, the marriage began to crack and eventually the father left his wife and children in England and returned on his own to Pakistan.
Some time later, mother and the children arrived in Pakistan for a vacation, but upon her arrival, her extended family began to pressure her to reconcile with her husband. She agree to do so on the basis that her husband return to England to resume their marriage.
It appears she fell into her husband’s trap, because before she knew it, the children were enrolled in school in Pakistan and her husband had hidden their passports. During this time she gave birth to a fourth child.
She finally escaped the clutches of her husband and his family and returned to England, but without her children. She applied in a British court for without notice court orders that the children be returned to England, orders that were later affirmed when challenged by her spouse.
However, her husband appealed the orders to the Court of Appeal. The court upheld the order that her three eldest children be returned to the U.K. but were split on whether the youngest child, born in Pakistan, should be returned as well.
Lord Justice Patten opined that a child born in Pakistan could not be said to be a habitual resident of England and therefore he could not make an order that included the youngest child.
Lord Justice Thorpe disagreed stating that the child took his mother’s habitual residence at birth as “the defeat of abduction must be supported” and that this case fell “narrowly on the right side of an important boundary.”
Britain’s highest court must now decide whether an infant is presumed to acquire the habitual residence of his or her custodial parent, despite being born in a foreign jurisdiction.
Yet, this may not be the end of the case, for a court order to some parents is just a piece of paper they are quite willing to defy.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang
A married couple from the United Kingdom tried for eight years to have a baby with no luck at all. After years of disappointment the couple were referred by family members to the Miracle of God Fertility Clinic in Port Harcourt Nigeria. They travelled there, and after paying $20,000, she underwent a fertilization procedure and became pregnant, according to Dr. Chinyere at the Clinic.
With much joy the couple returned to their home in England to await the birth of their child. Their first stop was a visit to their family doctor who informed his patient that she was not actually pregnant.
However, she was undeterred, relying on the Clinic’s advice that due to the nature of the procedure, her pregnancy would be more difficult to detect. As expected, she began to gain weight as well.
Nine months passed and the couple returned to Nigeria for the birth of their baby. After a painful birthing process under heavy sedation, the couple were presented with their baby, complete with its umbilical cord.
Arriving in England, they took their baby to its first medical check-up. Their doctor was stunned to see the child and contacted the police and social services who took their baby into custody after the doctor advised them that his patient had never been pregnant. DNA testing confirmed that the child was not biologically connected to the couple.
Court proceedings ensued where the couple sought the return of their child. The Crown, however, alleged that the parents of Baby D were fully aware of the child’s true circumstances and had knowingly participated in a fraud.
In a hearing before Mr. Justice Coleridge the couple were found to be innocent victims of a fertility scam. The Judge said:
“Gullible they may well have been, dishonest they most certainly were not. They had no inkling of the scam in which they were involved and the light only dawned after the production of the DNA tests. That is the conclusion to which the police and the Local Authority each independently have come and I think they are right.”
In a further court appearance the couple succeeded in obtaining custody of Baby D. A representative of “Children and Families Across Borders” expressed concern about the decision and its potential impact on trafficking in babies:
“Behind every one of these children lies an actual birth mother. She has been coerced, she may have been kidnapped or raped. These children are not given up willingly”.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang
Americans Mark and Jenifer Evans started their marriage with nothing, but after 25 years were worth millions of dollars as a result of their successful internet technology company. They lived primarily in the United Kingdom, but had homes in the United States and in the Turks and Caicos.
When Ms. Evans learned her husband was having an affair the marriage ended in trauma, but the drama had just begun.
In a three-year court battle, referred to by the judge as a “forensic point scoring”, the Evans’ ran up legal bills of over $3 million dollars in their collective efforts to make the other spouse pay…I mean really pay!
Lord Justice Thorpe divided their assets, valued at $60 million dollars, equally between them. Ms. Evans kept their London home and would receive the balance of her cash upon the sale of shares in their company. But the judge was not amused by what he had observed. He described their dispute as “puerile”, telling them “Somebody has to come into the nursery to make some rules”.
But nursery school was not over. Ms. Evans was nervous and fearful that her husband would dispose of the shares, leaving her with nothing, so she asked the Court for a rehearing and a new order.
By this time, Mark Evans had sold 65% of the business to a venture capitalist firm for $30 million. Jenifer Evans got her rehearing, but now the assets were worth $10 million dollars less and Judge Moylan reduced her share of the pot to 45%.
Yes, she should have stuck with what she had, as she lost millions in the new order. I somehow have the feeling that this case is not over.
Ms. Evans remains in London with one of her teenage daughters, while Mr. Evans has married the woman who distracted him from his marriage and lives in California with his eldest daughter. His wife is pregnant with their first child.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang