Published on 01 February 2011 by in blog

I was interviewed by Steve Peck on DIVORCE SOURCE RADIO in this edition called A Man’s Guide To Divorce and this is an excellent conversation on the state of men’s rights in child custody and divorce cases. We discussed my books, A MAN’S GUIDE TO DIVORCE STRATEGY,  A MAN’S GUIDE TO CHILD CUSTODY and  A MAN’S GUIDE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

I loved this show and had a great conversation with Steve Peck on the various issues that men are facing in Family Law Court.

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Published on 28 January 2011 by in blog

When it comes to international law, particularly international child custody cases there is a patchwork of organizations and laws that are operative. Part of what makes this all very confusing is the language. For example, lawyers who specialize in international child abduction cases, are familiar with  The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which is a multi-lateral treaty. That means many governments have signed on to it, but many have not.

The Hague Conference on Private International Law is the association of all the governments that are members. It is the gathering of all the various countries representatives in one place to discuss how each countries laws will be applied and to create mechanisms for two countries to talk to each other, legally and diplomatically.

Each Conference member may or may not, be part of a Convention. A Convention is when the government’s (members) get together and agree on the ground rules or laws for a particular topic.

The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a multilateral treaty, which seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return. The “Child Abduction Section” provides information about the operation of the Convention and the work of the Hague Conference in monitoring its implementation and promoting international co-operation in the area of child abduction.

The United States of America for example is both a member of the Conference and the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Japan and Korea are also members of the Conference, but NOT members of the Convention, as of January 2011. There are ongoing discussions for them to join the Convention, but they are not yet signatories to the Convention – which means that if a child is abducted to those countries there is no mechanism for the legal retrieval of the child.

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Children can be abducted from, or to, a country. When Child Custody Lawyers are working with the Central Authority of a government, the question becomes whether or not the case is an Incoming or Outgoing case.

For example, if Mother and Father have a child in France, and the French court makes a determination that Father shall have custody in France, but Mother shall have summer visitations in Los Angeles, if Mother keeps the child in Los Angeles beyond the summer break, that is a wrongful withholding and Father would open an Incoming Child Abduction case through the American Central Authority, the Department of State, who has appointed the Los Angeles District Attorney as their local representative and hire local child custody attorneys to represent him.

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Never. NEVER. NEVERNEVERNEVER pay in cash. This seems like the easiest way for you to pay your child support and make it easy on her and easy on you, particularly if you are self-employed and work in cash business. You will view it as “I’m doing my job, I’m providing for my kids. It’s what the court ordered and I’m doing it.”  True, True, True and True.

You are also setting yourself up to get royally reamed.

Child support obligations never, never, never go away. Unless you can prove you’ve paid them. I’ll repeat that.


Many a man has come to me saying he paid his support every week or month in cash to his ex, but he just got served with a demand for 15 years of back child support. I ask him if he has proof he paid it, he says he paid her in cash. He’s in deep hot water.

No Proof equals “you didn’t pay it.”

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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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