Archive for the ‘Abduction Legal or Not’ Category

The media has recently been talking of children illegally kidnapped by their mothers: in the US, Shawn Goldman ‘s case is perhaps the most famous. Shawn was abducted by her now late mother and his father David is trying to regain custody of his son; in France, the case that has alarmed the public is Elise’s, whose mother brought her to Russia. Both of these cases have seriously strained the relations between the US and Brazil and those of France with Russia. But when you are a non-custodial father in the US whose children have been abducted with the blessing of the family court system, your case does not bother a soul.

It should though, for there are  really no differences, as far as contacts between fathers and children are concerned,

Chloé's "supervised" birthday (2004)

Chloé's "supervised" birthday (2004)

between illegal and legal cases of abduction. Example: June 11 2009, was my daughter Chloé ‘s twelvth  birthday. As usual, I called. I was not expecting Chloé to pick up.  My girls never do. We have no direct, spontaneous phone exchanges. I leave a message, which perhaps would give rise to a call from my girls. On June 11, I could not leave a message . I was told that the number was disconnected. I then remember an email which my ex-wife sent me a few days before at work:

Please note: the contact # for Camille and Chloé Lacour is…then follows a number with a German area code.

Obviously, I called the German number and left a message. I never got any answer.

Folks, this is what I know. My girls are somewhere in Germany during  Summer.

What am I complaining about? My divorce agreement stipulates that when my ex-wife is abroad for more than two weeks, she has to tell me the whereabouts of the girls. She has never been so precise. Usually I am not even told where they are. And if I am not happy, I always can hire a family lawyer, go back to Manhattan family court and wait for another six years of trial to make my case! These fathers whose kids have been abducted by foreigners, they just have international conventions on abduction to protect them!

Anyway, happy birthday Chloé!

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Undocumented immigrants and non-custodial fathers have something in common: Their kids are arbitrarily abducted by the family court

The town of Chatino

The town of Chatino

system.. or the lack of it.

Actually, in the case of Cirila Balthazar Cruz, unlike Bail Romero‘s,  it was not even a family court judge who played God with parent rights, it was originally  a social worker. Cirila Balthazar Cruz is a Mexican immigrant from Oaxaca and lives in Pascagoula (Mississipi). She has the bad fortune to give birth to a baby girl in the local hospital. However, Cirila Balthazar Cruz does not speak Spanish, but Chatino, a Zacapotec language spoken in the State of Oaxaca. Hence the Puerto Rican social worker entendi nada and…  got pretty resentful about it. Verdict: unfit to be a mother. That’s enough for the very sensitive and open-minded hospital authorities: the baby girl is placed for adoption with an affluent local family, while the mother faced deportation. Cindy Von Quednow, the Colorlinesblog reporter, does not peep about the role of Pascagoula family court in the story. Obviously, its absence was deafening…

Again, I hope David Goldman will soon be reunited with his son.  David Goldman’s case should teach lawmakers and politicians, especially those screaming at Brazil’s non respect of an international convention on abduction: There are blatant cases of abductions going on in the US, by family courts or while family courts looked the other way.

Hat tip: Laura Martinez

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David Goldman seemed very close to see the end of his ordeal. In 2004, his son Sean, then four, was abducted by his late ex-wife,

Photo BringSeanHome.Org

Photo BringSeanHome.Org

Bruna, a Brazilian citizen. Everything started with a simple, innocuous family trip to  Brazil. Then, while in Brazil, Bruna, David Goldman’s wife,  showed no intention to come back to New Jersey, where the couple lived. If David wants to see his kid, he will have to a grant Bruna sole custody of Sean. Bruna would then get a divorce in Brazil from David Goldman, remarry  with a prominent lawyer and work the Brazilian family court system to remove Goldman’s name from Sean’s birth record.  She died in childbirth last month. In the meantime, David Goldman went to court in New Jersey, got a court order for a custody hearing. The kid should be returned to his father during the custody hearing. But the Brazilian court waited a year to respond to New Jersey court and finally decided that Sean could stay in Brazil.  End of the story? Nope. Brazil is a signatary of the Hague abduction convention, the Obama administration brings the case to the attention of the Brazilian authorities. A Brazilian federal judge ordered the boy to be turned to his father. Last wednesday, the boy had to be turn to the American Consulate in Rio but  on Tuesday, the Brazilian Supreme court suspended the order at the request of the Progressive Party, which argued that the Sean return to the US was unconstitutional.  The Brazilian Supreme Court is now to take up the case.

David Goldman’s ordeal is heartbreaking and one can only hope that he will soon be reunited with his son. What spoils it though is the clamor of the new knight of the fight against child  abduction,  Chris Smith, Republican Representative of New Jersey, who bashes at the Brazilian government for not respecting an international convention.  Chris Smith clearly needs to be introduced to the club of fathers who have been deprived from the right to see their kids, here, in New Jersey or in the U.S.  More often, family courts granted sole custody to the mother and the non-custodial fathers saw their rights to see their kids curtailed or annihilated. Unlike David Goldman, the rights of these fathers are not protected by an international convention against child abduction, and the media splendidly ignore them. When have we heard Chris Smith talking about father rights in the  State of New Jersey?


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