Presentation on theme: "International Parental Child Abduction"— Presentation transcript:
1 International Parental Child Abduction A Holistic ApproachAnn WollnerRosa Saladino
2 WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION? Parent taking or keeping child overseas withoutother parent’s permission, orcourt orderparents separated, father comes to pick up the child for the weekend and mother and child have vanishedfather takes child to visit sick grandfather in England and never comes back
3 WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION? Other namesParental kidnappingChild snatchingChild stealingIPCAIt’s NOTChild SlaveryChild Trafficking
4 COMMON SITUATIONS One parent comes from overseas (44.2%-2011) Escaping from family violenceRevengeParents separating and family and support overseasNew born baby and family and support overseasSeparating and father thinks Australian family law gives the mother too many rights
6 IS IT A REAL PROBLEM? Australian Statistics-150 p.a.(min) 1.Around 150 Hague applications to and from Australia filed each year. About double not filed or to countries not covered by the Hague Convention.2. About 350 inquiries at ISS per annum3. No stats collected on non Hague countries since 2003
7 IS IT A REAL PROBLEM? United States 1,700 p.a. US Stats include abductions worldwide not just Hague Countries
8 IS IT A REAL PROBLEM? EFFECTS Many people affectedCHILD-“I was scared whenever there was a knock at the door. I am still scared now.”LEFT BEHIND PARENT- “Everything hurt me. It was as if I had no skin on my body.”ABDUCTING PARENT- “The return order felt like a guillotine.”LEFT BEHIND RELATIVES-”I felt loss and outrage. A thread of our family had been snapped.”
9 IS IT A REAL PROBLEM? EFFECTS Pre abductionAbductionPost DecisionVary according to stageShort and long term effects- absolute torture you never get over
10 IS IT A REAL PROBLEM? Child Abuse Harms the childLoss of love and contact with half his familyLoss of friends and communityLoss of stability and consistencyLoss of language, culture, name and nationalityCauses psychological and emotional traumaProblems with anger, trust, abandonment, identity, helplessness and fearfulnessLong lasting effectsChildren are egotistical and often assume responsibility for abductionProblems with school, depression, violence, drinking, self hate, lonelinessChildhood stolenIn many cases already dealing with conflict associated with family breakdown. Often continuing conflict on return
11 IS IT A REAL PROBLEM? Left behind parent ParentingFearAngerRelationshipsStress fromRelationship breakdownPre abductionAbductionPost DecisionPre Abduction- Often dealing with anxiety and depression from relationship breakdownAbduction- inability to continue with life; unable to function, physical symptons of stress (loss of hair, illness, unable to concentrate), loss of job and consequent economic and social difficulties.Post Abduction- Fear of re-abduction, caring for children (feeling depleted, children angry); pressure and expense of further litigation, powerlessness; new relationships impeded (fear of reoccurrence; increased suspicion, redirected revenge)DevastationDepressionDespairlegal
12 IS IT A REAL PROBLEM? Abducting parent RevengePost natal depressionFearParentingIsolatedAngerRelationshipsPre abductionAbductionPost DecisionFurther litigation- relocation or not- Futility, isolation, impoverishment, fear of violence, impact on health, impotenceInsecureDepressionguiltRelief
13 Paul is aged 6. Paul and his parents, Carmen and Roberto are nationals of Spain, but came to live permanently in Melbourne in They have relatives, including Paul’s maternal grandmother in MelbournePaul and Carmen separated in June 2012 and Carmen repartnered in January During the period leading to separation, Roberto threatened to kill himself if the separation went ahead.Carmen and Roberto managed to agree on parenting arrangements, whereby Paul lived with Carmen and spent weekends with Roberto.Carmen had a nagging feeling that Robert might try to take Paul back to Spain, so she sought legal advice. The legal advice was to secure his passport in a safety deposit box. This she did. Unbeknownst to Carmen, Roberto went to the Spanish consulate and secured another passport for Paul claiming that his passport had been lost.During one of Paul’s weekend visits with Roberto in February 2013, Roberto took him and flew back to Spain. Carmen discovered this when Paul wasn’t returned as scheduled at the end of the weekend. When Paul hadn’t come home by 9.30 pm, she went to Roberto’s house and tried texting him. His house was dark. She called around to the hospitals. She texted that if she didn’t hear from him within 30 mins she would go to the police.Around midnight the frantic Carmen went to the police to report Paul and Roberto missing. While she was there she got a call. Her caller id indicated that the call was from Roberto’s sister Susan who lives in Spain. When Carmen answered the call, Roberto was on the line and told her that he and Paul were in Spain and if she tried to get Paul back, he would take Paul and disappear.While Paul has been in Spain, Roberto has allowed him to speak to Carmen every second day. These calls are always monitored on loud speaker.Roberto has allowed Paul one contact with his uncle who lives in Spain. He has told them that his father has threatened him that if his mother tries to get him back to Australia, his father would take him away and he would never see his mother again. Roberto told the uncle that the removal was an act of revenge, to destroy Carmen’s happinessPaul’s abduction
14 SERVICES REQUIREDSERVICESLEGALSOCIAL WORKEDUCATIONMEDIATIONSituation- Desperate, distraught mother, an unstable father and a child wrenched from his mother, family friends and community. Terrified that he may never see his mother again.
15 SERVICES PROVIDED ISS Australia- www.iss.org.au LEGALSOCIAL WORKEDUCATIONMEDIATIONInternational Social Service is a not for profit organisation which operates through a network of branches in about 140 countries.It is guided by international conventions focussing on children and families.UN Convention on the Rights of the ChildHague Convention on International Child AbductionHague Convention on Intercountry AdoptionsHague Convention on Protection of ChildrenIn Australia, it operates nationally from offices in Melbourne and Sydney.It offers a broad set of IPCA Services (brochures available at conclusion)The legal and social work services are funded by the Federal Attorney General’s department and are provided free to clients. The documentation preparation relates to children like Paul removed from Australia to one of the 89 Hague Convention CountriesThe mediation service is endorsed by the Federal Attorney General’s department and Family Law Courts. It is provided to clients at an affordable price.The education and training services are provided at reasonable rates.We have experienced practitioners who provide professional, non threatening, non judgmental, non discriminatory and ongoing services.
16 SERVICES PROVIDED ISS LEGAL Pre abductionAbductionPost DecisionADVICEHAGUE CONVENTIONNON HAGUE CONVENTIONAPPLICATIONREFERRALMEDIATIONLAWYERSADVICEPACE ALERTREFERRALLAWYERSMEDIATIONADVICEFAMILY LAWRELOCATIONPACE ALERTHAGUE CONVENTIONNON HAGUE CONVENTIONRefer to Paul’s CasePreabduction- Prevent abductionMother and father needed advice about Australian family Law (especially relocation) and the application of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.Mother needed advice about the PACE Alert and need to place Paul’s name on the Airport watch list.Lawyer needed advice about the PACE Alert and need to place Paul’s name on the Airport watch list.AbductionAdvice about Hague Convention process (adversarial and conflictual) and mediationAdvice re abduction to non Hague Convention countries ( Egypt and Lebanese agreements)Referral to mediationPreparation of Application, involves instructionsPost Decision and returnAdvice about PACE AlertReferral to lawyers and mediation (Parenting arrangements). Return under Hague Convention does not determine merits of the case. It determines jurisdiction
17 SERVICES PROVIDED ISS SOCIAL WORK Pre abductionAbductionPost DecisionSUPPORTCOUNSELLINGSOCIAL WORKCHILD PROTECTIONREFERRALMEDIATIONLAWYERSNETWORK PARTNERSSUPPORTCOUNSELLINGREFERRALLAWYERSMEDIATIONGROUPSREFERRALFAMILY LAWFAMILY VIOLENCEPACE ALERTADVICEHAGUE CONVENTIONNON HAGUE CONVENTIONIn Paul’sPre Abduction- Prevention/ DeterrentMother and father advice about Hague ConventionReferral to lawyers regarding PACE Alert, Family Law, Hague ConventionAbductionMother – counselling support during Hague process, referral to mediation, lawyers, support groups, liaised with lawyersChild – Protective concerns- liaise with ISS Network in Spain, connection with Child Protection ServicesFamily members- counsellingPost Decision (Return or not)Economically and emotional depletedMother/ father/ child-refer to counselling, lawyers and support groups (ongoing trauma and response)Mother- plan for conditions on return, reintegration of child, ongoing support
18 SERVICES PROVIDED ISS INTERNATIONAL MEDIATION Pre abductionAbductionPost DecisionMEDIATIONRETURNVOLUNTARYCOURT ORDEREDACCESSINTERIMFINALMediation preferable to all involved becausefacilitates improved ongoing relationsMore satisfactory resolution than court imposed decisionChild’s wishes given more considerationCan be attemptedPrior to start of court proceedingsDuring court proceedingsCan deal withOverall resolutionInterim resolutionsOffered to Carmen and Roberto but declined. Court in Spain ordered mediation prior to considering the case.
19 IPCA ISSUES Delays in return Non contact/ alienationUnenforceability of conditions in return orders“ toilet paper”Increased conflictOngoing traumaNumber of non Hague countriesUnevenness in Hague JurisdictionsDelaysHague Convention-Meant to be hot pursuit process (6 weeks). Not meant to be merits based. Orders child back so country of Habitual residence can decide on the best interests of the child.Delays in outcome because of inability to locate child, overloaded government central authorities and courts, use of delaying tactics by abducting parents (including appeals)Delays provide opportunity to denigrate parent, deterioration in relationship between child and left behind parent, increased difficulties on return.ConflictDifficulties of process, lack of trust, Court involvement and associated ongoing lack of trust increases conflict and compromises the development and wellbeing of the child.Number of non Hague countries89 Countries have signed convention.Main omissions- China (except Hong Kong and Macau); Muslim countries (Lebanon and Egypt agreements); India; JapanUnevenness of Hague JurisdictionsNew Zealand, United Kingdom and Unites States responsiveNon compliant- South American Countries-Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, the BahamasNon enforcement- Argentina, Brazil, France. Mexico, Poland and Romania.