Finally, DSM-5 was published today. The DSM-5 Task Force told us 2 or 3 years ago that they did not want parental alienation to be a separate diagnosis in DSM-5, but they thought that parental alienation could be considered an example of other diagnoses that are in DSM-5.
The actual words “parental alienation” are not in DSM-5, but there are several diagnoses that can be used in these cases. I would say the “spirit” of parental alienation is in DSM-5, even if the words are not.
Parent-child relational problem now has a discussion in DSM-5, not just a label. The discussion explains that cognitive problems in parent-child relational problem “may include negative attributions of the other’s intentions, hostility toward or scapegoating of the other, and unwarranted feelings of estrangement.” That is a pretty good description of a child’s view of the alienated parent, although it is an unfortunate use of the word “estrangement.”
Child psychological abuse is a new diagnosis in DSM-5. It is defined as “nonaccidental verbal or symbolic acts by a child’s parent or caregiver that result, or have reasonable potential to result, in significant psychological harm to the child.” In many instances, the behavior of the alienating parent constitutes child psychological abuse.
Child affected by parental relationship distress is another new diagnosis in DSM-5. It should be used “when the focus of clinical attention if the negative effects of parental relationship discord (e.g., high levels of conflict, distress, or disparagement) on a child in the family, including effects on the child’s mental or other physical disorders.” That is also a good description of how parental alienation comes about.
Factitious disorder imposed on another is the DSM-5 terminology for factitious disorder by proxy or Munchausen disorder by proxy. Its definition is “falsification of physical or psychological signs or symptoms, or induction of injury or disease, in another, associated with identified deception.” In some cases, that would describe the behavior of the alienating parent.
Delusional symptoms in partner of individual with delusional disorder is the DSM-5 terminology for shared psychotic disorder or folie a deux. The definition is: “In the context of a relationship, the delusional material from the dominant partner provides content for delusional belief by the individual who may not otherwise entirely meet criteria for delusional disorder.”
In discussing this topic, I would say that the concept of parental alienation is clearly in DSM-5, although the actual words are not. This is a great improvement over DSM-IV-TR, especially with the addition of the new diagnoses, child psychological abuse and child affected by parental relationship distress.
Dr. Bernet is currently working with PAAO to present a webinar on this subject in the next 2 – 3 weeks. We will notify you of the details shortly.
Widner Family Law deals with divorce. They have a radio program called “Divorce Rescue Radio” which is on every Sunday night. During this episode they spend a lot of time talking about Parental Alienation.
Dr. Richard Warshak is on this program. The show is full of great information from some very knowledgeable people. You can listen to the program clicking on the link: http://divorce-rescue-radio-talk-showRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Lita Ford has a song on her new album that helps her express how she feels about family, travel, the geographical distance that makes or breaks families and in general, her new music.
Living Like a Runaway is her first CD since she began to manage life on her own. Her life changes prompted her comeback release Wicked Wonderland. Her latest work is closer to the music she wants to create.
But one track, called Mother, is a personal message to her children. Reflecting on her situation, Ford says the biggest lesson she’s learned was that: “If you ever get angry at your spouse, don’t take it out on your kids. Keep them out of it. They don’t need to know. Just let them be kids.”
In this episode you will hear the songs, MOTHER, PLAYING WITH FIRE, STILL WAITING AND GOTTA LET GO.
Click on the link to listen to Jill and Judge Michelle talk with Lita Ford: http://Litaford blogtalkRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Lawdiva’s Blog – Canadian Lawyer Georgialee Lang – Her recent story on Parental Alienation
There are many divorced fathers in Canada who believe they are nothing more than a “wallet” in their children’s eyes. It is rare however, for a judge to confirm that status in Reasons for Judgment, but that is exactly what Mr. Justice Gray did in his recent decision in Veneman v. Veneman 2012 ONSC 6324.
Mr. and Mrs. Veneman separated in 2004 after 11 years of marriage. Mr. Veneman left the family home but maintained the financial status quo and enjoyed a good relationship with the children, ages 8 and 11.
The apparent bliss of separation disappeared, however, when Mr. Veneman commenced a personal relationship with a woman he met on the internet. His ex-wife’s reaction was venomous as revealed in vulgar emails from her to Mr. Veneman where she called his girlfriend an “internet whore”.
At about the same time, Mr. Veneman decided that after two years of separation, the parties should reorganize their financial affairs. He closed the joint account that his wife and he shared since the date of separation and began paying voluntary child and spousal support.
Ms. Veneman’s campaign of abuse against Mr. Veneman was quickly adopted by his two girls who also began writing mean-spirited and disrespectful emails to their father. The children were particularly angered by their father when he brought his girlfriend to a birthday party for one of the girls hosted by the girl’s paternal grandparent. This was the first occasion they had met her, although Mr. Veneman told his children about her and their relationship.
As time went on, the girls also sent emails scolding their father for failing to provide sufficient funds to their mother. The Court found that Ms. Veneman liberally shared her views about his girlfriend and his financial contribution, all actions which eventually led to the termination of any father/daughter relationship.
Eldest daughter Maggie described her father in an email to him as “selfish, greedy, lying, back-stabbing, neglecting, blackmailing, bribing, idiotic, mean and just overall a stupid person”. This kind of poison most often originates from a parent who cannot see that their attitude is severely harming their children.
Despite the difficulties, Mr. Veneman continued to make every effort to reconnect and appease his children but all overtures were rebuffed by them.
With his older daughter approaching the age of nineteen and attending Queen’s University, Mr. Veneman brought an application to court asking for an order that his obligation to pay child support cease upon her birthday.
Several years earlier, he had agreed to an order that he pay 75% of his children’s post-secondary education costs, but he now argued that her termination of any relationship with him was cause for the court to reconsider his child support obligations.
Mr. Veneman relied on several cases where courts noted that an adult child’s unilateral and unreasoned abandonment of a parental relationship could lead to a termination of support. Other cases, however, were cited where the proposition was accepted that “estrangement, even at the sole instance of the child, should not be relevant”.
Judge Gray, however, did not need to grapple with which authority was correct as he was able to decide the case by finding that the father had not shown a material change in circumstances, which was the required test to vary a child support order. The judge held that when Mr. Veneman agreed to pay post-secondary expenses in 2009, he had no relationship with Maggie, and had no relationship now.
He declared that Mr. Veneman “was nothing more than a wallet” and said the blame for the alienation must be assumed by both parents.
It is here where I part company with the judge’s findings. It is startling to suggest that the clumsy, perhaps even insensitive, introduction of a new partner to one’s children who are 10 and 13, after two years of separation from their mother, constitutes conduct that is blameworthy.
In my view, Ms. Veneman’s immature behavior is the reason her children have ousted their father from their lives. I hope when the girls figure it out, which they will, they will clearly understand their mother’s role in a tragic family situation the judge called “irrational and avoidable”.
Interesting that if you are part of an intact family you can decide how much you want to contribute, if any, to your child’s education, but if you are separated or divorced the State decides.
Equally interesting is the absence of any reference to “parental alienation”. I guess if you don’t say it, it doesn’t exist.
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- Sidney Morning Herald
The Italian father embroiled in an international custody battle has left Australia after giving up hope he will win his legal fight to get his daughters back to Italy.
The father – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – flew out of Australia on Friday morning without telling any of his local supporters he was leaving. He contacted them from a stopover in Abu Dhabi to tell them he had “had enough”, and was on his way back to Italy.
The 35-year-old has been in Australia since May trying to engineer his daughters’ return to Italy. Born and raised there, the sisters, aged nine, 10, 13 and 15, were brought to Queensland by their Australian mother two years ago on the pretext of a holiday – and stayed.
Supporters said the “very emotional and angry” father made the snap decision to abandon his fight for custody after his daughters made it clear on Wednesday they would resist any court orders to return them to Italy for a custody hearing.
The Sun-Herald has been told the sisters said authorities would have to handcuff and drug them to get them on a plane to Italy and, once there, they would simply run away.
The sisters went into hiding in May when the Family Court first ruled they must go back to Italy so courts there could settle the custody dispute in accordance with Australia’s obligations as a signatory to the Hague Child Abduction Convention.
But the father despaired of this ever happening, after a Family Court judge agreed on Thursday to hear an appeal to dismiss his original order the girls be sent back to Italy. The application to discharge his ruling will be heard on September 27.
The judge also ordered the girls be interviewed again by an independent consultant to ensure their wishes were understood, noting their desire to remain in Australia could have intensified since his first order was made.
It is understood that the father has spent €120,000 ($142,000) on the custody fight and has been on unpaid leave from his job for months.
Although he declined to comment on why he decided suddenly to leave Australia, supporters said he had grown increasingly frustrated with the way his former wife had used the Australian legal process to evade the Italian courts.
The father has publicly accused the mother of playing “dirty tricks” to win custody.
A spokesman for the father said he could not continue to fight for the children under circumstances that constantly thrust them into situations that were not in their best interests emotionally or psychologically.
”He loves and cherishes his daughters and always will,” he said. ”He will never give up on them.”
The spokesman also said Australia had little respect for the Hague Convention and international child abduction laws.
The father said last month that he felt discriminated against because he was a man and not Australian.
While the custody case dragged through the courts, the girls have been living with their mother and attending school on the Sunshine Coast. Their father had been granted regular access pending the final decision on whether the family must return to Italy.
The girls hold dual Italian-Australian citizenship.
Japan Times に掲載された記事「Japan’s ‘silent tsunami’ severs parental ties, wrecks children’s lives」のケビン・ブラウンさんによる文章の日本語訳です。
Japan Times 2011年8月30日（火）
3分毎に新たな子どもが親の離婚によって両親の片方から断絶されています。 7分 毎に新たな子どもが学校いじめの犠牲者になっています。 12分毎に児童虐待に関する新たなケースが保護施設に報告されています。 毎週、少なくとも1 人の子供がこうした児童虐待の結果として死んでいます。
「Children First」は、これらの問題と子供に影響のあることについての他の問題を克服するために活動しています。 しかし、私たちだけでは実現できません。日本が子供にとってより良い場所になるためには、国会議員や政策立案者の助けが必要です。
ほとんどの人々がいじめと虐待の存在に気付いています。これらの2つの問題はしば しば新聞に掲載されます。 しかし、私や多く の他の親達が更に憂慮すべきだと考える問題は、3分毎に子どもの離婚後の片方の親との連絡が絶えてしまうということです。
これは、日本中に癌のように広まっている静かな悲劇です。 それによって、子ども達は彼らの最大限の可能性を広げることができません。それは家 族と家族重視の価値観を滅ぼしています。それは子どもを、将来についての混乱の最中に放り出したままにし、そして普通の生活を送れる可能性を小さくします。 何組かの親子は想像を絶する深 い悲しみの中に取り残されます。これは多く の人々が知らない静かな津波です。 家裁と日本の法システムが、この悲劇が続くことを許しているのです。
現在、私は裁判を抱えていますが、その内容はすぐに変わるべきです。9月13日に、裁判官は離婚と親権に関する判決を出すでしょう。前例の通りであるならば、私は100%負けるでしょう。私は、私の所轄裁判所のある熊本から東京の最高裁判所まで、自転車に乗って行くことを計画しています。私は家族法を変えることを要求するつもりです。私は道中、県庁に寄って知事達からの支持を集めるつもりです。私はそのために8週間の休暇を取りました。「Children First」の日本のフェイスブックページ(http://www.facebook.com/pages/Children-First-Japan/115396388532379)や、「共同親権」の日本のフェースブックページ(http://www.facebook.com/oyako)で、私の計画の経過を見守ることができます。そしてまた、私のブログ「Children First Japan」(http://kwbrow2.wordpress.com)で、私の旅行に関する詳しい情報が得られます。
After years of foreign pressure, Japan finally decided Friday to sign a treaty to settle cross-border child custody disputes, but a heated debate is expected to continue as proponents of the pact hope the move leads to the formation of a system that will guarantee children’s access to both parents after a divorce.
Japan has long been labeled a “haven for parental abductions” and a “black hole” for children removed internationally, by foreign parents unable to see their children because they have been taken to Japan by their former Japanese spouses.
In Japan, the tendency is for the courts to award mothers sole custody of any children after divorce.
Among the Group of Seven countries, only Japan has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which sets out the rules and procedures for promptly returning children under 16 to the country of their habitual residence in cases of international divorce. The pact currently has 84 parties.
The outcry from foreign parents separated from their children by failed marriages with Japanese has prompted 32 nations to jointly press Tokyo to join the treaty.
The government is now planning to submit bills by the end of this year to craft the legislation needed to accede to the convention.
But the move won’t solve all of Japan’s problems. Joining the pact will only provide a solution to parents abroad. Cases of “parental abductions” that occur in Japan, meanwhile, whil be left untouched.
Also, the pact’s reach is unlikely to be retroactive, meaning it will only deal with future cases, in principle.
Out of concern that accession to the pact could endanger Japanese parties who have fled abusive relationships, Tokyo is considering stipulating in the domestic law that children will not have to be returned when they and their parent have suffered abuse by the other parent.
Japan is also thinking about exempting cases in which the Japanese parent could face criminal prosecution in his or her country of habitual residence and in which the former spouse abroad is deemed to have difficulty taking care of children.
Critics of the pact are calling on the government to carefully address the issue of abuse during the legislative process. Kazuko Ito, a lawyer who has opposed the signing of the convention, said Japan should specify the conditions for exempting the return of children when it drafts the domestic law.
Parents whose former spouses have taken their children — both Japanese and non-Japanese — are also carefully watching the process to see if it will lead to a change in their situation.
Such parents and their supporters have been lobbying for Japan to accede to the pact in the hope that it will change the customary situation in Japan, where it is not unusual for children to stop seeing their fathers after their parents break up.
Thierry Consigny, an elected member of the Assembly for French Overseas Nationals for Japan and North Asia, who has been supporting around 40 French parents officially recognized by Paris as having been separated from their children in Japan, said he hopes Tokyo will not unilaterally adopt criteria for recognizing cases of abuse.
“The 84 parties to the Hague Convention have their own criteria in identifying abuses, but they share international standards and make decisions on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “We want Japanese courts to heed French standards as well in recognizing abuse cases to make a balance.”
Consigny also said he expects joining the Hague Convention, which calls for securing children’s access to both parents, will eventually lead to more exchanges between children and their noncustodial parents in Japan, which in his opinion will promote burden-sharing between divorced parents.
“The current sole custody system in Japan puts too much burden on child-rearing parents,” he said. “Many single mothers who have abducted their children cannot enjoy private life as they bear heavy responsibility as breadwinners and are afraid of the possibility that their kids could be taken by exes.”
France has adopted a joint custody system partly to lessen the child-rearing burden on working mothers by actively involving fathers, he said. Many of the countries that have pressured Japan — the 27-member European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada, Colombia and New Zealand — have such systems.
Mitsuru Munakata, a separated Japanese father who has been lobbying for a joint custody system in Japan, urged the government to address the plight of parents and children who cannot see each other in Japan while it prepares to join the Hague Convention.
“Honoring the spirit of the convention, the government should address the problems of separated parents and children in Japan. Otherwise, there is no meaning in signing the treaty that only deals with cross-border disputes because domestic cases would be discriminated against,” he said.
Munakata said without real changes in the domestic situation, Japan’s move to sign the pact will only be viewed as a way of dodging international pressure over child custody rows. He said in Japan, parents who do not have custody of their children are only allowed to spend two hours per month with their children on average.
Steve Christie, an American founder of a parental abduction victims association, said that his son, now 16, was abducted by the boy’s Japanese mother when he was 10 and that a Japanese family court suggested Christie see his son only three times a year during vacations for a total of 36 hours.
As of January this year, the United States recognized 100 active cases of parental abduction to Japan involving 140 children. In addition, Washington is aware of 31 cases in which both parents and children live in Japan but one parent has been denied access.
Another American parent who has been lobbying the governments of both Japan and the United States to address the matter, said on condition of anonymity that the official figures represent only the tip of the iceberg, calling for efficient enforcement mechanisms to ensure access between separated parents and children.
In 2009, 146,408 couples with children under 20 were divorced in Japan, including couples composed of Japanese and foreigners, according to the latest government statistics. The number of divorces among Japanese and their foreign spouses reached about 19,404 cases that year.
Of the 146,408 divorces, 13.2 percent were cases in which fathers took sole care of children, while 83.2 percent were cases in which mothers did so. Only 3.6 percent involved both parents in child rearing.
Jill Egizii is and alderman in Illinois. She has done great work with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. She hosts a show called “Life without limits”, showing that kids with disabilities can still lead productive lives. She is divorced and she has 4 kids and she has been alienated from all of them. She gives advice to those who are experiencing parental alienation. She has worked with Alec Baldwin to change family and divorce law in Illinois. She believes a child has the right to both parents. Please click the link and watch the video.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Every child is suppose to have certain rights that are guaranteed. If you are divorced or separated from your child I think you can understand. Sometimes those rights are not guaranteed.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
ERNIE ALLEN, President & Chief Executive Officer for THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN testifies in Washington, D.C. before the TOM LANTOS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION about “INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION AND PARENTAL ACCESS”
December 2, 2009
According to the latest research from the Department of Justice, there are more than 200,000 family abductions per year. In these situations, a non-custodial relative abducts a child from his or her custodial parent. This is a crime under both state and federal law. Family-abducted children suffer extreme emotional abuse, ranging from lack of identity to grief over the loss of a parent. In many instances the abductor tells the child that the left-behind-parent is dead or no longer wants the child. Abductors frequently move the child from city to city, or take the child to another country, making it difficult for law enforcement and the searching parent to locate and recover the child.
To help illustrate the scope of the problem of international child abduction, I’d like to share some additional statistics with you. NCMEC is currently working cases involving 1,214 children who were abducted by a non-custodial parent from the United States to a foreign country. The majority of these children were taken to the following countries: Mexico (533 children); Japan (54 children); India (32 children); Egypt (30 children); the United Kingdom (24 children); and Canada (23 children).
To read Mr. Allen’s full testimony please click on the link below.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The government of the United States is deeply concerned about the issues of international parental child abduction and child custody/visitation with respect to its close friend and ally, Japan. Due to its sole-parent child custody system, its reluctance to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and the fact that it has never returned a single child abducted from abroad to his or her rightful home, Japan has earned an international reputation as a safe haven for kidnappers. Over the past several years, U.S. lawmakers have begun making concerted efforts to end the tragic situations affecting a great many American families due to Japan’s antiquated family law system and its inexplicable disregard for international norms.
The U.S. State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues states there are 100 active cases involving 140 American children who have been abducted from the U.S.A. and who are now being held in Japan in violation of American law. Many of the Japanese nationals guilty of these abductions have court orders against them and are subject to arrest by the F.B.I. and prosecution by federal courts for kidnapping should they again set foot on U.S. soil. In the United States and most advanced nations child abduction is an extremely serious crime. Japan lags far behind other developed countries by failing to recognize this common sense, international consensus and by not legislating child abduction as a punishable criminal offense.
In addition, it is estimated that at least 3,200 American children residing in Japan are being denied access to one of their parents post-divorce. This is due to the Japanese child custody system that awards shin ken (parental rights) to only one parent upon divorce and also severely limits child access to the other parent thereafter. In the case of international marriages, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, and Japanese nationals almost invariably receive sole parental rights. Once shin ken is granted to one parent, the other has no further legal rights with regard to his or her child’s upbringing, and the shin ken holder may deny that other parent access to the child at his or her whim. Since no specific provision for visitation exists under Japanese statute, and since Japanese courts in any event lack any real enforcement powers, the left-behind parent – i.e., the parent without parental rights – is at the mercy of his or her former Japanese spouse. Child visitation is frequently denied outright or severely curtailed, and in any event is always subject to the caprice of the shin ken holder.
These two issues – international parental child abduction and child custody/visitation – are beginning to strain the friendly relations the United States and Japan have enjoyed since the end of World War II. In response to the seriousness of this situation, the U.S. House of Representatives has recently begun taking steps to address what the United States considers to be gross violations of the human rights of American children and their parents by the Japanese nation.
H.Res. 1326 (House Resolution 1326
H.Res. 1326 is a non-binding resolution approved on September 29, 2010, by a vote of 416 to 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution 1) “condemns the abduction and retention” of American children by Japanese nationals and demands their repatriation, 2) calls upon Japan to create enforceable laws that guarantee American parents the right to visitation with their children, and 3) urges Japan to accede to the Hague Convention so that established legal mechanisms can be relied upon to resolve custody disputes arising from the dissolution of international marriages. H.Res. 1326 reflects the overwhelming feeling among the American public and its lawmakers that Japan should immediately address these very serious issues for several reasons.
First, removing American citizens from their domiciles in the United States without the consent of the American parents is, as the resolution states, “a violation of their human rights and international law.” As a friend and ally of the United States, Japan should act immediately to end this tragic injustice and restore the family relationships its policies have damaged or destroyed, and thenceforth ensure that the rule of law applies in a reciprocal fashion between the two countries.
Additionally, Japan is viewed as an outlier among the community of advanced nations for not providing for joint custody or enforceable child visitation following divorce. The end result of these policies is frequently the American parent’s complete loss of access to his or her child. Essential family bonds are thus traumatically severed, and the children affected by this tragedy often have to contend with the effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a psychological condition which can result in depression; loss of community; loss of stability, security, and trust; excessive fearfulness, even of ordinary occurrences; loneliness; anger; helplessness; disruption in identity formation; and fear of abandonment.
Finally, Japan is currently the only G-7 country that has not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, adopted thirty years ago in 1980. This multilateral treaty, in which 82 countries participate, provides a legal means to effect the expeditious repatriation of children abducted from their domiciles in their home countries, termed in the treaty the child’s “place of habitual residence.” Japan’s resistance to becoming a signatory to the convention and its oft-repeated claims that it is “studying” or “considering” the issue are adversely affecting the country’s diplomatic and economic relations with its strategic allies and important trade partners. Over the past year, through a series of démarches, or diplomatic initiatives, America has joined with 11 other nations plus the European Union to pressure Japan to accede to the treaty and also to resolve outstanding child custody and visitation issues. These démarches are evidence of the increasing frustration the global community now feels over Japan’s lack of progress with respect to this important human rights issue.
H.R. 3240 – The International Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2009
H.R. 3240, entitled The International Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2009, is a bipartisan bill pending before the U.S. House of Representatives that specifically addresses the joint problems of international parental child abduction and loss of child custody/visitation under the Japanese legal system. If approved by the House, H.R. 3240 would, as a federal statute, have the force of law, and would require specific action on the part of the U.S. government to resolve these issues. Among other things, H.R. 3240 would establish an Office of International Child Abductions in the U.S. Department of State and provide for punitive measures for countries deemed to have exhibited a “pattern of non-cooperation” with respect to the protection of children’s rights.
As explained in one summary of the proposed bill, H.R. 3240 would create an Ambassador at Large for International Child Abductions whose primary responsibilities would be to:
1) promote measures to prevent the international abduction of children from the United States;
(2) advocate on behalf of abducted children whose habitual residence is the United States;
(3) assist left-behind parents in the resolution of abduction or refusal of access cases; and
(4) advance mechanisms to prevent and resolve cases of international child abduction.
In addition, the act would direct the President of the United States to:
(1) annually review the status of unresolved cases in each foreign country to determine whether the government has engaged in a pattern of non-cooperation, and if so, designate such country as a Country With a Pattern of Non-cooperation;
(2) notify the appropriate congressional committees of such designation; and
(3) take specified presidential or commensurate actions to bring about a cessation of non-cooperation.
Thus, passage of H.R. 3240 in the House will radically alter the friendly and cooperative relationship America and Japan have traditionally enjoyed, absent a sincere effort on Japan’s part to resolve the fundamental human rights issues the bill addresses. It is hoped that Japan will voluntarily do the right thing and, as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell cautions, not “wait until the situation has become so tense and so difficult that it appears that Japan is only responding to pressure from the United States.”
 see “Parental Child Abduction is Child Abuse” by Nancy Faulkner, Ph.D. presented to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights in Special Session, June 9, 1999, at http://www.prevent-abuse-now.com/unreport.htmRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
A group of left behind parents met in Tokyo on a cold winter day to protest and speak about child abduction and the need for Japan to change it’s outdated Family Law. Parents want more access to their children. Parents want joint custody like all of the other G-7 countries have. Children have the right to see and love both parents. Under Japanese law only one parent has custody after divorce and the other parent often loses custody and contact with the child. Left Behind Parents gave speeches and marched down the street in Shibuya. This was an excellent turnout for such a cold day. About 80 parents and concerned citizens showed up to raise awareness about child abduction. The children are the foundation of the future. Click on the link to view a 3 minute video of the demo.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
On Saturday July 31st, (“中部・共同親権法制化運動の会”)”Chubu Joint Custody Association for the legislation of joint nurture” sponsored a demo in Nagoya followed by a symposium related to Parental Abduction, Joint Custody, and Parental Alienation. Five fathers spoke at the symposium after the demo. Goto-sensei was the keynote speaker at the symposium. NHK and the Chunichi shimbun were at the symposium and plan to do stories on the issue.
Goto-sensei had several interesting points. She said, there are not many lawyers in Japan that are experienced and willing to fight the unjust Japanese Court system. Goto-sensei talked about a case that she worked on for 3 years. She represented the father and after a 3 year battle custody was awarded to him but transferring physical custody to the father was a problem. The court tried to assist with this two different times but each time it failed. After the second failure the court suggested that Goto and the father give up. Hence, as most of us know, the court has no real power.
Goto said things use to be different 30 years ago. Men often got custody but sometime in the 1990′s a feminist movement took place and women suddenly started gaining power especially in custody cases.
Goto also said, if you are a good person and follow the Japanese way your chances of being abused by the system are great. Goto suggested you fight in court that way judges and courts will know there is a problem. If you don’t try and fight you will never win. “Fight the system” was her biggest message of the day. But, in the same breath Goto-sensei said there are only 5 aggressive lawyers in Japan who are willing to fight the system. She said the other lawyers are weak or inexperienced and don’t want to cause trouble. So if you read between the lines, it is almost impossible to hire an aggressive lawyer who will fight for the best interests of the child.
If you have time watch the short video below.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Despite the harm Nancy Fiedler inflicted on her daughter and her ex-husband and his family, I predict her punishment will not fit the crime. If this were a “stranger” abduction, there is no doubt of severe retribution, however, the irony is that the true victim, Eva, will likely support and defend her mother.
According to Georgialee Lang (lawyer), there is no reason to believe that Nancy Fiedler will discontinue her accusations of abuse against Greg Fiedler after living a large part of her life based on this theme. In Ms. Lang’s experience, women like Nancy Fiedler rarely have insight into their destructive behavior. She likely casts herself in the role of heroine, after all, she saved her daughter.
To read the full article click on the link. Lawdiva blogRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
The Yomiuri Shimbun
We live in a time when divorce has become commonplace. In Japan, a couple gets divorced every two minutes. Consequently, the number of divorced parents filing requests with the courts for visitation rights is increasing.
There is also a growing number of conflicts resulting from breakups of couples from different countries. Due to differences in interpretation regarding child custody, parents have been accused of abducting their own children and taking them to another country.
As families and people’s values diversify, certain problems have become difficult to resolve under the existing system.
Starting today, we will look at some of the problems divorced parents face as they struggle to win the right to see their children.
After separating from her husband five years ago, a 51-year-old woman in Tokyo began a long struggle to see her 15-year-old son.
The woman, a temporary worker, has only been able to see her son twice in the five years that have passed. The meetings, held in a court and in the presence of a court personnel, totaled just 95 minutes.
On both occasions when the woman saw her son, she was unable to stop tears welling up.
“My son, who is taking piano lessons, put his hand on mine to compare the size,” she said. “As I saw him staring at me while talking, I felt we were deeply bound inside.”
Desperately wishing to see her son more often, in July 2007 she applied to the family court for mediation on the issue of visitation rights.
However, the woman’s former husband initially resisted all requests to allow her to visit her son, citing the boy’s need to focus on his schooling, including preparing to move up to the next grade.
As part of the mediation process, in which a voluntary settlement is sought with the help of commissioners, the court initially set up two short meetings between the woman and her son as a way of determining the format future meetings should take.
The two met for 50 minutes in March 2008 and 45 minutes in April 2009.
“My son remembered the meeting we had a year earlier,” the woman said.
While the court advised that the woman be allowed to visit her son every two months, the couple failed to reach an agreement. As a result, the mediation process moved to the next stage, which will see a final decision issued by a judge.
“I’m so worried that I might never be allowed to see my son again,” she said.
Children caught up in disputes
The number of divorces nationwide reached 250,000 in 2008, according to a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey. Of those divorced couples, 140,000 had children aged under 20, which numbered more than 240,000.
The rising number of divorced couples is accompanied by an increasing number of conflicts involving children.
According to an annual survey compiled by the Supreme Court, family courts across the country mediated in 6,261 cases concerning disputes over meetings between divorced parents and their children and judges were forced to deliver a final decision in 1,020 of those cases. Both figures were triple the numbers a decade ago.
Even through such court-mediated procedures, only half of the parents involved in the cases won permission to see their children.
In addition, regardless of an agreement or court order reached on visitation, if the parent who lives with the child strongly resists allowing meetings, it remains difficult for the other parent to see the child.
Maintaining contact important
Several years ago, a 40-year-old man from Kanagawa Prefecture seeking the right to see his then 1-year-old son applied for court mediation.
He had helped his wife take care of the baby, feeding him milk and changing his diapers at night. On his days off, he took the boy to a park to play. “I had no inkling I’d be prevented from meeting my son after the divorce,” he said. “But I was completely wrong.”
He said that even after the official mediation procedure started, his former wife maintained she would never allow him to see their son. She even pushed back the scheduled date for the mediation. Time passed and no decisions were made.
Desperate to see his son, the man even visited the neighborhood where the boy lived with his mother.
The former couple failed to reach a compromise through the court-led mediation process and began proceedings that would lead to a decision by a judge. Two years later, the court concluded that the man should be allowed to see his son once a month, for half a day. Nevertheless, the former wife broke the appointment set for the first meeting, leaving the man unable to see the boy.
After repeated negotiations with the woman through lawyers, he finally managed to ensure he could regularly see his son. “I believe it’s important for children’s growth to maintain a relationship with both parents,” the father said. “I think adults shouldn’t deprive their children of this right due to selfishness.”
Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura argues the existing system no longer meets society’s changing needs. “It was previously believed that divorced parents had to accept they couldn’t see children they’d been separated from,” Tanamura said. “In recent years, however, men have become more involved in child rearing and the number of children born to couples has declined. Because of this, many divorced parents have an increased desire to maintain their relationship with their children even after a divorce.”
What needs to be done to ensure that parents can see their children after a divorce? There is a growing need for this nation to find an answer to this question.
Sole custody causing headaches
A key factor behind disputes involving divorced couples over their children’s custody is a Civil Code stipulation that parental prerogatives are granted to either the mother or father–not both.
The parent who obtains custody assumes rights and duties for his or her child, such as the duty to educate the child and the right to control any assets they might have. However, the parent without parental authority can claim almost no rights concerning their children.
In fact, mothers win in 90 percent of court decisions concerning the custody of a child–known as mediation and determination proceedings.
There is no provision in the Civil Code referring to the visitation rights of a parent living separately from his or her child, so whether the absent parent can meet the child depends on the wishes of the former partner who has been granted custody.
If the parent who has custody refuses to let his or her child meet with the former spouse in a court mediation, it is difficult to arrange visits.
Even if the parent living separately from his or her child or children is allowed to visit, the chances are limited–for example, to once a month. Moreover, if the parents who have custody ignore the court’s decision to grant their spouses visiting rights, there is almost no legal recourse to implement such visits.
Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura said: “The current system strongly reflects the Japanese family system established in the Meiji era [1868-1912]. Since that time, parental authority has been regarded as the right of the parents to control their children, so couples fight over it.”
Meanwhile, as the number of divorces increased from the 1970s to the ’90s in Europe and the United States, such countries began allowing joint custody, in which former couples cooperate in bringing up their children even after breaking up.
Lawyer Takao Tanase, who also serves as a professor at Chuo University, said: “[In such countries,] the rights of parents who live separately from their children after divorce to visit and communicate with their children are recognized, and such visits occur regularly. For example, there are cases in which such parents meet with their children once a fortnight and spend the weekend together.”
The number of international marriages is increasing yearly–reaching a record high of 18,774 cases in 2008–and the difference in the custody system between Japan and foreign countries causes serious problems when a Japanese splits from his or her foreign spouse.
Cases in which Japanese living in foreign countries take their children back to Japan after divorcing a foreign spouse have become an international problem. The Foreign Ministry confirmed 73 such incidents in the United States, 36 in Canada, 35 in France and 33 in Britain.
There is an international law to deal with such disputes. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction stipulates that if a former husband or wife takes his or her child or children to another country without the consent of the former spouse, the spouse can apply to bring the child back to the country where they were living. Member countries assume an obligation to cooperate in bringing the child back to the home country.
Many European countries and the United States have joined the convention, but Japan has yet to ratify it. International pressure on Japan to adopt the convention is growing.
“We need to separate the problems of parent-child relationships from the problems between couples. We need to establish laws enabling children to meet with the parent who is living separately after divorce, with the exception of cases in which the child is exposed to potential physical danger by meeting the parent,” Tanase said.
“In Japan, divorce is becoming increasingly common, and it’s important to accept the idea that divorced couples will share child-rearing duties even after divorce,” he added.
(Feb. 3, 2010)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) televised a short 14 minute piece on Joint Custody (Kyoudou Shinken) on June 8th. It was a short but good program aired in Osaka that focused on 2 women. One woman can only see her kids 4 times per year when the kids spend the day at her parents house. The other woman’s children are in America (Utah). Since Japan has not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction the father will not let the children visit Japan. She would like Japan to sign the Hague so her kids can come to Japan and visit and learn about Japanese culture. ABC said they would do more stories related to this issue in the future. Hopefully, they will continue their series on “how to help children”. Please watch the two part video. Two lawyers and some other parents also voice their opinions in the video.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Three part video on reforming family law in Japan. Currently many parents are working to change the law so joint custody will be possible in Japan. You will learn about joint custody in America and how custody differs in Japan. You will learn about the common problems with the family law system in Japan too. Please click on the links to watch the videos (all videos are in English).
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On Sunday the 25th of April (2010) a study session related to reforming family law was held in Kyoto. The study session was sponsored by Oyako-net Kansai. The keynote speaker was Mr. Nonoyama a lawyer who practices in the Kansai area. Nonoyama sensei is good friends with Tanase sensei (another lawyer based in Tokyo) who is also interested in reforming family law in Japan. One of the first things Nonoyama sensei said was it is too easy to get a divorce in Japan. You only have to sign a sheet of paper to get a divorce. There are no requirements (as in many western countries) for parents to make or agree to a joint parenting plan. This parenting plan outlines the details of how the children will be raised. It covers everything from where the children will live to where and how they will spend their vacations with each respective parent. Nonoyama sensei implied that Japan needs a similar system.
Domestic Violence (DV) was another big topic that was brought up in the question and answer session. Nonoyama sensei was clear that there are some domestic violence cases and that the women in these cases need protection but he was also clear that most divorce cases do NOT involve DV. In non-DV cases there needs to be some type of enforcement. If a mother refuses visitation then that mother needs to be penalized. He equated denial of parental visitation as abuse. Excuses such as your son does not want to see you and your son is sick were not valid reasons (in most cases) to deny visitation. Nonoyama sensei said he would continue to work with Tanase sensei to reform family law. These two lawyers seemed to have some great ideas but there seems to be some resistance with the diet and the public. It sounds like there is still a lot of hard work that needs to be done.
One Japanese mother (whose children are living in America with their American father) spoke during the question and answer session. She said Japan must sign the Hague. Her ex-husband is refusing to let her children travel to Japan for a visit because Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction. She said she and her extended family are heartbroken that her kids can not experience Japanese culture. She said if Japan signed the Hague it would then be possible for her children to travel to Japan for vacation.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Masako Akeo has had 2 articles published recently related to the need for joint custody. In the first article she talks about the rights of a child, suing Keiko Chiba (Minister of Justice), and being prohibited from going to her son’s school. But more importantly she mentions the need for joint custody. Many other nations have a joint custody system in place and children have regular and meaningful contact with both parents on a weekly basis. The article also mentions Kozue Sugano a left behind Japanese mother whose child was taken to Bangladesh by her Bangladeshi ex-husband. Kozue has no access to her child and hopes Japan will sign the Hague Convention.
Left-Behind Parents Want End to Single Child Custody System
Masako’s second article, talks about the need for Japan to sign the Hague Convention as soon as possible. Japan must also revise it family law system to reflect the needs of today’s society. This means Japan needs “joint custody”. Masako also tells a brief story of how her ex managed to get sole custody of her son and her current attempts and struggles to see her son.
Masako Akeo: Japanese Laws Should Encourage Joint Custody
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I would like to share some older articles written in 1999 and 2000 by Timothy Maier. He focused on Europe and the Middle East but the problems he writes about are the same problems left behind parents face today in Japan and many other countries all over the world. Mr. Maier constantly criticized the State Department for their incompetence. All of the obstacles left behind parents face today were present 10 years ago (the way State classifies cases, how countries are seen as compliant or non-compliant in relation to the Hague, misleading Congress, unwillingness to protect its own citizens, unwillingness to prosecute child abductors, etc.) From State Department attorney Tom Johnson, also a left behind parent, “The (State) Department’s bad faith is especially evident with regard to this point, since Congress itself estimated there to be 10,000 abducted American children abroad when it passed the 1993 International Parental Kidnapping Crimes Act. Congress knows that even the State Department admits to 500 to 1000 new cases annually, and Congress knows that the National Center’s estimate is up to 17,000 per year. These numbers include both Hague and non-Hague cases, but nevertheless indicate the extent of the Department’s attempt to mislead Congress with a report of only 58 unresolved cases.” Timothy Maier interviews parents and introduces their cases and pleas for help. He mentions States refusal to call these atrocities “human rights violations”. Maier talks about Sweden, Saudia Arabia, Germany, France and the parents who abducted their kids to those countries. He talks about how the FBI is reluctant to help it own citizens. He is insightful. Every article sheds light on the problems left behind parents face. Articles (in pdf)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )