Monday, February 22, 2010
Slander and Defamation: The Tools Of A Parental Child Abductor by Peter Thomas, author of Chasing The Cyclone
Many Chasing Parents throughtout the world know all to well one of the difficult techniques used by an abductor and the abductor's lawyers in order to break the spirit, will, and financial resources of the parent left behind in the wake of the criminal act that is international parental child abduction is to slander that person's name and reputation while implementing as many legal stall tactics as possible before the courts.
I write from personal experience: I am a Chasing Father who successfully recovered my child when he was abducted and taken half-way across the world.
Strategically speaking, nearly every lawyer who has represented a Hague case on behalf of a Chasing Parent will agree that it is critical to keep a narrow focus on whether a parent's custody rights were denied by the other parent in international cases, and by doing so, wrongfully detained the child from their rights of a child/parent relationship and purposefully breached the custody order of a previous court.
The primary purpose of The Hague Court is to determine if a right of custody was denied from a previous court order, and if so, to return the child and their abducting parent (this is done usually on a voluntary basis) to the court of original jurisdiction so the court of original jurisdiction can determine what is in the child's best interest, including matters of custody and visitation.
The test from the start is to ask the question: Did the abducting parent violate the custody laws of another court by removing the child from the country of original jurisdiction illegally and, by doing so, was there a denial of the Chasing Parent's legal rights of custody to that child?
Under this premise, The Hague Convention's Central Authority's court located in the country that the abduction has taken place will typically pay attention to the narrow focus and intent of the Treaty: was a previous court order regarding custody breached? If so (and there are no dangerous consequences to the child [the best interest of the child]), then typically the Hague Court will order for the child to be returned to his or her original jurisdiction.
But this is not always the case.
Section 13 of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction reads:
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding Article, the judicial or administrative authority of the requested State is not bound to order the return of the child if the person, institution or other body which opposes its return establishes that –
a) the person, institution or other body having the care of the person of the child was not actually exercising the custody rights at the time of removal or retention, or had consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention; or
b) there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.
The judicial or administrative authority may also refuse to order the return of the child if it finds that the child objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of its views.
In considering the circumstances referred to in this Article, the judicial and administrative authorities shall take into account the information relating to the social background of the child provided by the Central Authority or other competent authority of the child's habitual residence.
This is the 'defense' Article, the mantra if you will, used by every abducting parent and their lawyer in order to defend against the act of abduction. Article 13 is always used to defend the serious criminal action of abduction by doing two things:
A) By attempting to create a picture to the courts and the public that returning the child to their original jurisdiction is in fact an act that will cause dire and unnecessary hardship to the child, and that such hardship is cruel and will have both short and long-reaching consequences for the child.
B) The abducting parent and their lawyer will attempt to portray the left behind parent in as much as an unfavorable light as possible. This typically includes a great deal of mud-slinging in court, whereas the abducting parent will make false accusations against the other parent including drug use, violence, abuse, non-interest, non-support, criminal behavior, sexual abuse, pedophilia, death-threats, etc.
Typically, these false statements will also find their way on the Internet, where, under any blog forum, a person can log on and write a scandalous statement or story under an assortment of alias names. They then follow-up that scandalous story or post with another alias blog post and essentially attempt to support the lie already posted on line.
And herein rests one of the great problems for the Chasing Parent: the Internet holds very little accountable. It is extremely difficult to have removed slander and defamatory statements under many websites own operating policies. Add in the fact that many slanderous remarks will be made under alias or anoynomous names, and you must now consider that Chasing Parent do not even have a clue as to where to begin to serve legal documents in order to have the defamation removed. In the end, the Chasing Parent's name and reputation are damaged, regardless of the court's final ruling.
It is noteworthy to point out that nearly every international parental child abduction that occurs is well planned out. So, if the Internet is going to be used to support false allegations that a would-be abducting parent intends to use in court as a means to defend against their act of criminal abduction - make no mistake about it - slander and defamation very well could begin before the actual abduction takes place.
The slander scheme supports the defense of Article 13 Subsection B of the Convention because the abductor's defense will be able to find 'public' support that demonstrates the Chasing Parent is in fact detrimental to the child's safety. Of course, proving this scheme before a court may be a whole other issue. Nevertheless, nearly every Chasing Parent is not immune to slander and defamation. Needless to say, it is in the best interest of the abducting parent and that person's advisors to do everything possible - including attempting to portray the Chasing Parent as a bad person - in order to defend agains their own criminal act of child abduction.
This is an Article 13 subsection A defense.
The reality for most Chasing Parents and their children victimized by the multiple crimes that surround and include international child abduction is that they do not have the financial resources necessary to fight the fight. Combine this with the abducting parent's attempt to beat-down the spirit of the Chasing Parent by a campaign of slander, not to mention the difficulties in fighting an international legal case, and you the conclusion is easy to make: Abducting Parents (who typically abduct a child in order to cause pain and suffering to the other parent), are unstable and dangerous - to both the abducted child and the Chasing Parent.
Peter Thomas Senese
Author - Chasing The Cyclone (by Peter Thomas)
Producer - Chasing Parents: Racing into the storms of international parental child abduction (by Peter Senese)