This site tracks developments in international family law from Richard Crouch and John Crouch of Crouch & Crouch in Arlington, Virginia. Our international practice has grown naturally from our location in our native Arlington, where our clients include many military, diplomatic and immigrant families, international organization employees, IT professionals, etc. This blog's purpose is to comment on the ongoing development of the law, and help other lawyers, journalists and the public understand individual cases. These postings do not provide a comprehensive description of the law. In fact, they will surely contain statements that were true at the time but have become less valid as the law continues to develop.
Excerpts: "A study suggests the proportion of returns under the Hague Convention on child abduction fell between 2003 and 2008 and that cases took longer. Cardiff University Professor Nigel Lowe says his study sends "warning signs" about the treaty's overall performance. ... The Cardiff study compared figures from 2008 with those from five years earlier and found there was a 45% increase in the number of applications to get children back, that the proportion of returns had declined and cases took longer to resolve. ...
"Lady Catherine Meyer - whose two sons were detained overseas by her ex-husband 10 years ago and who now runs the charity Parents and Abducted Children Together - said the time for diplomacy alone was over. 'If we go pussyfooting like this all the time, nothing is ever going to change. We need to be much more firm. The Hague Convention is better than nothing but it is absolutely not fool proof and some countries do not abide by it the way they should.'
[Note: It may be relevant that the child was not actually in Japan - the actual return happened earlier, when a US order was enforced, and only because the mother came to Hawaii and was arrested there on federal child abduction charges. That has historically been the only way to undo abductions to Japan and other countries that view child custody and enforcement extremely differently from English-speaking countries.]
The Osaka High Court has awarded a 40-year-old Nicaraguan man living in the United States custody of his daughter, following his divorce from the girl's Japanese mother who abducted her to Osaka ... ruling the 9-year-old girl had become accustomed to life in the United States with her father and his family. ... the daughter has already been handed over to her father in the U.S.
The couple married in 2002 and the child was born the same year. They lived in Wisconsin, but the woman returned to Japan with the child in 2008 without her then-estranged husband's permission.
The man was granted custody of the child in a U.S. suit over the couple's divorce. The woman was arrested by U.S. authorities in April last year when she visited Hawaii to renew her green card. She was released in December the same year after relinquishing the girl to her father.
Cases of a parent fleeing with their children to a different country are on the increase, a report has said. Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales, Lord Justice Thorpe, said most instances involved eastern European countries. His office dealt with 180 cases last year compared with 27 in 2007. ... The International Family Justice annual report said there were 27 cases in 2007, 92 in 2010 and 180 in 2011. [In addition to abductions to and from England in custody disputes,] Lord Justice Thorpe said: "The tendency of dangerous parents to bolt when social services are exercising legitimate protective powers is all too common."
The senior judge said that with almost two-thirds of children born in London in 2010 having a foreign parent there was "the potential for significant future growth" in cases.
The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs is hosting an open house for "International Parental Child Abduction" May 16, In Washington, D.C. RSVP's by March 30. For more information email Jessika Sandle at SandelJS@state.gov.
One issue he discusses is domestic violence claims in Hague Convention cases. But those have not even been raised as an issue in 99% of the Hague Convention cases I have handled or know of. Second, the Convention already has exceptions for situations where return would mean a grave risk of physical or psychological harm to the child. Case law varies on whether this exception applies to cases of spousal abuse. But even when there are abuse allegations, the Convention lets the court send the child back to the home country with the abductor instead of the petitioner. So it is a doubly rare case in which return to the home country, by itself, would endanger the child or the abducting parent.