August 20th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
A terrible and tragic thing has happened. The Italian father who, for two years, has been fighting in Australian courts for the return of his four daughters abducted there from their home in Italy, has thrown in the towel. Saying he’s “had enough,” the man boarded a plane back to his home in Florence. He hasn’t given up because the law is against him; on the contrary, he’s won at every stage of the proceedings. But he’s now spent some three months in Australia and $142,000 in his effort to get his girls back. That’s three months in which he wasn’t working and earning an income, so that $142,000 figure is much higher.
But every time a court ruled for him, another granted his ex another hearing, another delay that would of course cost more money and keep him still longer away from his job. Despite the fact that the girls’ mother was plainly in the wrong, despite the fact that she leveled accusations at him that were found to be false, despite the fact that, when faced with the police forcibly putting the children on a plane to Italy, she and her relatives once again abducted them and kept them in hiding, Australian courts repeatedly refused to punish her in any way and indeed returned custody to her during the latest delay.
That, plus his treatment by the Australian press that at times made the man feel like a pariah, finally wore him down.
Meanwhile, the girls’ behavior looks very much like the product of their mother’s alienation of them. One of the key symptoms of PAS is anger or hatred directed at the targeted parent that’s out of all proportion to anything he/she may have done to warrant it. Of course it’s hard to tell at this distance, but what are the chances that a mother who abducts the children, keeps them for two years, hides them with relatives, one of whom (the mother’s mother) encouraged her to kill herself and the children rather than letting the fit, loving father, have custody of them, has alienated them from their father? I’d say the chances are about 100%.
In short, the father has done nothing wrong, the courts have found as much, the mother has continually violated the law, the courts time and again refuse to do what is required by the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction – return the children to their country of residence and let the courts there sort out whatever legal problems the parents have. Given that, it’s hard not to conclude that the Australian family court system wasn’t working hand in glove with the mother. Oh, I don’t say there was a conspiracy to deprive the man of his children; that would suggest conscious wrongdoing by the judges. But when the dust settles, we’ll see that the unconscionable waste of time by the courts produced exactly the result the mother wanted. He, not her, was the one who had to take months off work, live in a foreign country and battle an unfamiliar legal system. And eventually, the man had to make a call – whether to waste more time in the Australian court system that in two years hadn’t done what the Hague Convention wants done in 60 days and lose his job (and of course yet more money), or try to inject some sanity into his life.
Once again, the Australian system of family law has thoroughly disgraced itself. Everyone knows and many have acknowledged that the Italian courts are fully capable of adjudicating the rights and obligations of these two people toward each other and their daughters. The case should long ago have returned to Italy along with the father and his daughters. The Australian courts could have accomplished that, but didn’t. And another man has been denied his children, possibly for all times, not because he was wrong, not because he was unfit, but because courts routinely manage to support mothers’ wishes at the expense of fathers and children, regardless of how legally and morally wrong.
Here’s an article on the man’s decision (Sydney Morning Herald, 8/19/12).