Children Returned to Poland Under Hague Convention Following Alleged Kidnapping by Mother

An Illinois court ordered that two children born in the US be returned to their father in Poland, where the girls had reportedly been living before their mother allegedly abducted them to the US, after filing for divorce in Poland.

The mother reportedly absconded with the children to the US because “[i]n Poland there is no future for the kids.”

But it is reported also that neither the mother nor the children want to live in Poland again.

It was not reported whether the mother will pursue custody of the girls in the Polish courts, which have been held to have child custody jurisdiction over the children.

Read more in articles from the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune.

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Fry’s Electronics’ Wife Attacks PostNuptial Agreement for Fraud

The ex-wife of one of the owners of Fry’s Electronics stores is reportedly challenging a postnuptial agreement on the grounds that her ex-husband allegedly defrauded and coerced her into signing it.

In contrast to a prenuptial agreement, a postnup is a property settlement agreement entered by a couple at any time after they have married. A postnup is often made in connection with a divorce, but by no means always.

In this case, Mrs. Fry brought a separate civil suit with contract and business claims going to the heart of the structuring of the Fry holdings.

She hopes to get access in this case to financial records of Fry’s holdings that she apparently was not able to access in the divorce case.

Read more in this San Jose Mercury News article.

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Child Support Enforcement Error Leads to Multiple Deaths

The Missouri child support enforcement agency reportedly admitted making a huge mistake in at least one father’s income withholding for child support.

A data entry clerk allegedly entered the amount of an arrearage in total as the recurring monthly obligation. This resulted in fifty percent of the man’s pay being withheld.

The father, without the help of an attorney, was unable to work within the system to have the error corrected.

Sadly, his frustration recently spawned a quadruple murder-suicide and a rape.

The support agency subsequently disclosed that a child support investigator had noted in the file the discrepancy between the court-ordered obligation and the income deduction order.

It doesn’t appear that he or she initiated any corrective measures.

Read more in this Kansas City Star article.

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Case Dismissed Late in the Game for Lack of Child Custody Jurisdiction

Texas was the forum for a factually complicated, aggressively litigated case that painfully illustrates an important legal principle.

In the few years that they were married, the mother and father and, later, their baby, “moved” from country to country every few months, including a couple of months, here and there, spent in Texas. Most of the child’s short life had actually been spent in the country of Belarus, where his maternal grandmother lived.

While the child was in Belarus, the father filed in Texas for annulment and (apparently) for visitation rights with the child. The mother did not participate in that proceeding and the annulment was granted.

Subsequently, the mother asserted that Texas did not have jurisdiction over the child but she requested a new trial. (The report does not reconcile these two inconsistent positions; a reasonable speculation would be that the mother requested a new trial as her first choice for relief but, strictly as a fallback position if that were denied, she alternatively requested dismissal for lack of jurisdiction over the child.)

Interestingly, the mother was granted a new trial and there was no report of any ruling / finding / opinion /conclusion whatsoever regarding jurisdiction of the child.

Both mother and father fully participated in the second trial. The court thereafter granted primary custody to the mother and visitation to the father and a divorce was granted.

Needless to say, the proceedings would typically have concluded here. But the father allegedly wrongfully kept the child after visitation and the mother had to bring additional proceedings for emergency orders for the child’s return.

Next, both the mother and the father each filed their own motions for a new trial.

Then, after all of the proceedings above, the father, for the first time, filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction over the child.

It should be noted that jurisdiction over the child and jurisdiction over the divorce may, under certain circumstances, be different, meaning that, at a certain point in time, the same state may not be able to decide both matters.

It should also be noted that jurisdiction over a child is a type of jurisdiction that lawyers call subject matter jurisdiction. This type of jurisdiction is essential for a court to decide a case.

It’s about whether a court does or does not have the power to decide a case about a certain type of “thing”, or subject. If the court doesn’t have the power, it doesn’t. Period. No agreement or error by the parties can give the court more power than it has.

The trial court denied the father’s motion to dismiss – largely, it appears, because the father never returned the child as ordered and seemed to have brought the motion to dismiss out of “sour grapes”.

In reversing, the appellate court sympathized but, in essence, held that the father’s attitude and “error” could not confer more power on the Texas courts than they had. The Texas court just didn’t have power to make custody rulings about this child under the facts of this case and under the legal rules governing child custody jurisdiction.

As for the father making this last ditch argument after all of the litigation that had already gone on, the court held that an argument so fundamental that it goes to the heart of the court’s power to rule, can still be raised even at the eleventh hour.

And in Florida too, this type of fundamental argument can be made right to the bitter end of the case.

What may be most interesting about this case is that this rather obvious issue wasn’t raised much earlier in the game – even by the court itself.

Read more in this Texas Lawyer article.

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Post Adoption Depression

Post partum depression has a high profile. It has been cited in murder cases and celebrity spats.

But adoption professionals and families involved in adoptions report a different, low profile condition: post-adoption depression. Although its cause is poorly understood at this time, it is reportedly not uncommon among adoptive mothers.

Some adoption agencies are now offering services to support adoptive parents with post-adoption depression.

Read more in After the Adoption, a New Child and the Blues.

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Boca Mother Faces Trial for Abducting Child to Costa Rica

A local Boca Raton woman is on trial for abducting her son from his father’s lawful custody and removing the boy to Costa Rica for nine months four years ago. She has not seen her son since she was arrested upon her return to this country.

The mother reportedly contends that she was protecting her son from alleged molestation by her ex-husband’s boyfriend. She refused any plea bargains and looks forward to vindicating herself at trial.

Read more in this Miami Herald article.

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Biological Parents from Abroad Challenge US Adoption Six Years After Placing Child into Foster Care

Couple voluntarily place their infant into foster care.

Foster parents decide to adopt the girl.

Six years after giving her up, couple decide they want daughter back.

Case is on its way to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Oh, the biological parents pressing the appeal are Chinese nationals. And the Chinese embassy and community groups are complaining of cultural bias in the courts.

The biological parents’ legal arguments are:

  1. Tennessee law on custody and abandonment is confusing
  2. Parents whose childen are involuntarily removed from their homes have more legal protections than parents who voluntarily give their child up into foster care

Read more in State Supreme Court will hear high-profile international adoption appeal.

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Florida Kids Leaving Foster Care at 18 May Get More Help

Foster kids who aren’t ever adopted age out of their support system in a blink when they turn eighteen. They are thrust out on their own without much (if any) further social, financial or emotional support.

Now the State of Florida is considering providing more support for children transitioning from the foster care social support system to total legal independence. With more assistance, these children could get off to a better start in their adult lives. Safe housing, more and better education, more promising career opportunities and so on.

Read more at Former foster kids may get options.

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US Isn’t Beating Child Abuse

According to an article in the [Kentucky] Gleaner News, all of our society’s efforts to stamp out child abuse aren’t getting anywhere. There are still just as many victims today as before.

An expert on child abuse recommends intensive preventative education to raise kids’ awareness of what constitutes abuse and their knowledge of where to turn for help.

According to another expert, part of the problem is that people just don’t want to believe that child abuse is taking place right in their own neighborhoods.

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Candidate Wins Child Support Reduction – Then Personally Finances His Campaign

According to this Arizona Daily Star article, a successful businessman-turned-candidate for governor successfully urged the family court to halve his child support obligation – and shortly thereafter committed $100,000 of his own personal funds to his campaign.

The candidate was quoted as saying that the reduced support payment “for one kid for a four-year marriage is pretty darn generous.”

The candidate is also reportedly extremely delinquent in his spousal support obligations to his ex-wife.

The candidate seeks political office that would make him the director of the state of Arizona’s public policies.

If he wins election, will Arizona’s children and ex-spouses face across-the-board reductions in child support and spousal support?

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