Child custody cases can become not only international disputes, but they can also become a criminal matter, from Amber Alerts to the International Cause Celebre ala Elian Gonzalez and the Goldmans and Brazil. When they become criminal it is a federal issue since 1993 when the U.S. Congress dealt with international child abductions. It passed the International Parental Kidnapping Act (IPKA), 18 U.S.C.  §1204. The Act imposes criminal penalties upon parents who illegally abduct children.

It is a federal felony for a parent to wrongfully remove or retain a child outside the United States. There are three defenses to the crime 1) The defendant was granted custody or visitation pursuant to the UCCJEA, 2) the defendant is fleeing domestic violence, and 3) the defendant was unable to return a child to the custodial parent because of circumstances beyond their control.

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In international child abduction cases, the U.S. has a law to address the remedies available. It is called the INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION REMEDIES ACT. It was enacted in 1988 to act in concert with the HAGUE CONVENTION OF THE CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION, which is an international treaty to which the United States of America is a signatory.

Originally the HAGUE CONVENTION was enacted because it was thought that fathers would be abducting their children and removing them to a foreign country. What has proven to be the case, is that in the majority of cases (over 50% of the time) it is mothers who move to a foreign country, get pregnant and then want to return to THEIR home country to raise the child.

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The U.S. Supreme Court granted a non-custodial father rights to determine where his child will live. In the case of ABBOTT V. ABBOTT, full text here, the Supreme Court agreed with the father that when the Chilean government issued a Ne Exeat order, which prevented his ex-wife from leaving Chile with their son without the father’s written permission, that it was a custodial right.

In applying the United States of America INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION REMEDIES ACT (ICARA) according to the standards of the HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION to which both the U.S and Chile are signatories, the court found that the father did have a custodial right, and therefore the mother had wrongfully removed the child from Chile when she relocated to Texas without the father’s consent.

Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy:

As the parties agree, the Convention applies to this dispute. A. J. A. is under 16 years old; he was a habitual resident of Chile; and both Chile and the United States are contracting states. The question is whether A. J. A. was “wrongfully removed” from Chile, in other words, whether he was removed in violation of a right of custody. This Court’s inquiry is shaped by the text of the Convention; the views of the United States Department of State; decisions addressing the meaning of “rights of custody” in courts of other contracting states; and the purposes of the Convention. After considering these sources, the Court determines that Mr. Abbott’s ne exeat right is a right of custody under the Convention.

The court ruling that mother has violated father’s rights is nice win for responsible co-parenting.

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When another state has made a child custody and visitation determination the local state courts (like Los Angeles Superior, Ventura Superior Court or Orange County Superior) do not have jurisdiction over the case, UNLESS the child is in the state of California AND there is a risk to the child’s health and well-being.

If there is a physical or emotional danger to the child under California Family Code Section 3424, a party can ask the court to take Emergency Jurisdiction to protect the child and provide orders relating to the custody of the child. The orders will be effective long enough for the other side to go to the Home State and get clarification or other orders.

Family Code 3424 reads in part:

3424. (a) A court of this state has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in this state and the child has
been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child, is
subjected to, or threatened with, mistreatment or abuse.

We have successfully represented clients in Los Angeles County and Ventura County and others, to have a court issue immediate custody orders that were necessary for the best interest of the child.

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Published on 19 January 2011 by in blog, Uncategorized

There are three things a man should do when faced with a divorce:

1) Go through the house and inventory of all the “stuff”. – You don’t want it, but you need to know what it is worth.

2) Never leave the kids until you have an agreement in place to see them regularly, that you are happy with.

EXCEPTION: If it’s an abusive or explosive situation – give SERIOUS CONSIDERATION to getting a restraining order against her. It will prove HUGELY BENEFICIAL TO YOU IN THE CUSTODY BATTLE. ( And trust me on this one, she wouldn’t think twice about getting one against you.) My book A MAN’S GUIDE TO CHILD CUSTODY goes into detail on this issue – download it here. You should probably also download my book A MAN’S GUIDE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, she’ll use false claims of Domestic Violence against you to get custody of the children – no really, she will. Download it here now.

3) Self-love. Don’t be hard on yourself, it’s not all your fault. She had a part in this relationship too. Hit the gym, do some self-reflection either with a 12 step program, therapist or a self-help support group.

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I frequently hear from my Los Angeles fathers, that their children’s mom is “cutting me out of my kids lives” and to varying degrees this is called Parental Alienation. There is a raging debate in the psychological community if it’s a psychological syndrome or not. But to men who are suffering the damaging effects of it, they don’t care. They just know it is ruining their relationships with their children and it’s a very difficult battle to wage.


Fathers have a difficult enough time staying involved in their children’s lives. The courts usually keep the children with their mother when dad moves out. Mother expects father to continue working as much as he did. One, so that he brings in as much money as before, and two so that he doesn’t have time for the kids, which she then uses against him.

There are three main categories of Parental Alienation, Mild, Moderate and Severe. All of them are abusive, to the father, but more so to the child. Harming or destroying one parent’s relationship with their child is, and should be treated as, CHILD ABUSE.


According to www.KeepingFamiliesConnected.or the following is a rough idea of the mild level of parental alienation that people go through.

Mild Parental Alienation: Parents who lose control, make negative comments or exhibit negative behavior towards the other parent in front of the child, but feel bad about it later. Most parents going through a divorce engage in this level of Parental Alienation at some point. But they recognize they are wrong, worry about the effects on the child (or children), and take steps to stop inappropriate actions directed at the other parent. They understand that their child needs to have a healthy and loving relationship with both of their parents, to have the best chance of developing into a healthy adult someday. These parents rarely use the family court system to control or attack the other parent, and are rarely involved in starting a child custody battle.

We have fought these child custody and parental alienation battles for years, they are nasty and difficult. Many times it looks like Mom is being a protective parent, and if you’re in this fight, you need to know that it’s a long war, not just a one day event.

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DOWNLOAD: A Man’s Guide to Domestic Violence

Published on 19 November 2010 by in blog

Click on the button below to download your copy of “A Man’s Guide To Domestic Violence”.

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DOWNLOAD: A Man’s Guide to Child Custody

Published on 19 November 2010 by in blog

Click on the button below to download your copy of “A Man’s Guide To Child Custody”.

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DOWNLOAD: A Man’s Guide To Divorce Strategy

Published on 19 November 2010 by in blog

Click on the button below to download your copy of “A Man’s Guide To Divorce Strategy”.

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Child Custody Rules For Fathers

Published on 16 November 2010 by in blog

Frequently the mother claims that the father is not a good parent, or too immature, or too uneducated on how to provide for a newborn. I think those are weak arguments at best and disingenuous at worst. If a man is old enough to father a child, to be required to pay child support, then he should be old enough to take up the mantel of parenting.

Today, as it stands, fathers who want to obtain, or increase, their visitation and custody orders need to keep in mind the following: Proximity, Paperwork and Persistence. They can make or break your chances of getting the orders issued by the judge. Most fathers start out a custody case at a disadvantage. When dad moves out, the children are left with mom, and that becomes the way the court is inclined to keep the situation. The moment that dad moves out of the family home, is the moment that mom gains an advantage in child custody hearings.
Here’s why, the courts don’t want to upset the children’s living environment. They focus on keeping the child stable, and that means in their historical home.

So how then does a man recover from the mistake of moving out of the house? He must show to the court that he can effectively parent the child, with as little disruption to the child’s routine as possible.


This means how far or close dad lives to the child’s home and school. This is a major factor in increasing, or acquiring, custody and visitation. The closer dad is to the home and school, the more easily he can be present for the child, and the courts give this great weight. If the choice is for a child to be in a car for five minutes getting from mom’s home to school or a 25 minute drive from dad’s home, the court is going to prefer mom’s home. It is also more likely that the child’s friends and social network are close to the school they attend, which is a factor for the court.


Cases are won or lost on documentation. Dads should keep a Calendar or a diary of all the time that they are with their child. In any contested case, mom has something that she will use to show the court how little time dad spends with the kids.
A simple calendar which shows the days that dad took his child, and what they did on those days can make all the difference for a change in custody. If dad keeps the receipts for what he did with his child, it will allow his lawyer to prove that he took the child to see the movie Cars on a day when mom says he didn’t visit. This is a crucial credibility issue, and one that with a little bit of work by dad, can yield big gains. The court will see that dad is truthful, and he’s come a long way towards winning the credibility wars, and that can lead to more time with his child.


The biggest factor that effects whether or not a dad will win more visitation or even equal custody, is his ability to come back, time and time again. The successful dad in family court, is the dad who never gave up, and was willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how difficult it was, or how long it took, to prove to the court that he wants and is capable of being a loving, attentive and present father.
The successful dad who wants to increase his custody and visitation, will live close to his child, keep good records, and never give up when dealt a bad hand.

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