An Ohio parent involved in an international custody disagreement can be tested to the limit before the case is resolved. Add to that the loss and pain of separation a parent feels after a child is secretly relocated to a foreign country.
Suddenly, all hopes of regaining child custody are in the hands of courts in separate countries, some with contradictory views about family law. A Columbus parent may not know where to turn for help.
A Stark County man last saw his daughters almost six years ago, when he and the girls' mother were getting a divorce. During the legal proceedings, the man's Russian-born spouse fled the U.S. with the children and moved to Sochi.
The Ohio father turned to the governments of both countries for assistance but was frustrated that neither U.S. nor Russian officials would intervene. Contact was limited to a few phone conversations with the girls, whose responses seemed to be coached.
Last year, the girls' mother died unexpectedly of cancer. The father contacted an agency in Russia to regain custody and made a trip to Sochi, hoping to return to the U.S. with his daughters. The girls' Russian grandmother took the girls and went into hiding.
The father extended his stay in Russia, waiting for authorities to locate the grandmother. The dad was forced to return to Ohio, before the girls and grandmother were found. Eventually, the missing trio was discovered, but the grandmother never faced charges.
Since the initial abduction, the Ohio man remarried and became the parent of a new daughter. He's still pressing the U.S. government to help him reunite with his other children.
A family law attorney understands the steps required to petition for the return of a U.S. child taken to a foreign country. International custody rules for countries under The Hague Convention facilitate the return of abducted children to their primary residence.
Source: NewsNet 5 Cleveland, "Stark County father, who hasn't seen daughters in nearly 6 years, fights to get them out of Russia" Bob Jones, Feb. 10, 2014