November 18th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
It’s another case of international child abduction, and – lo and behold! – another one the news media just can’t manage to grasp. Read about it here (India Today, 11/17/12).
The facts aren’t complicated. A man and woman were married in India in 1999. They moved to the United States where they settled in Kansas.
They had two children in Kansas and one in India in 2009. Then he filed for divorce in Kansas, apparently while his wife was in India. Wherever she was, she hired a lawyer in Kansas and vigorously contested the issue of custody which she duly lost as to all three children. Just what the terms of the custody decree were goes unmentioned in the linked-to article as do the names of the father and mother. (Curiously, the article provides her a pseudonym while he’s just called “the father.”)
Having lost the custody case, the mother absconded with the youngest child to India, leaving Dad and the older two in Kansas. She then filed suit there claiming the Kansas court should have decided the case under Indian law, specifically, the Hindu Marriage Act. That’s almost certainly more a waste of everyone’s time than a meritorious legal claim. In the first place, the Kansas court ruled it had jurisdiction of the case. That means, among other things, that the parents were residents of the state. And there’s no apparent reason why the court should have applied any but Kansas law in deciding the custody issues. In the second place, the mother apparently didn’t raise the issue of Indian law before the Kansas judge. So her suit in India looks frivolous to me, and indeed the lower court there plus the Bombay High Court have already ruled against her saying that the case has been decided by a court of competent jurisdiction.
But she’s now appealed to the Indian Supreme Court, so I suppose her abduction of the youngest child will last at least a while longer.
Meanwhile, Dad is playing nicely. He’s refrained from requesting a coercive order by any Indian court requiring her to return the child to him. He’s waiting for the Supreme Court to rule to decide how to proceed.
Child Abduction is Criminal, Child Abuse
However the legal case comes out – and I can’t see the mother’s prevailing – the article linked to shows no grasp of the notion that the mother has done anything wrong. To the writer, this is nothing more than a legal dispute in which both parties have legitimate arguments to make about their respective cases. Nowhere does the concept appear that the mother has violated international law and committed child abuse by intentionally depriving a small child of its father.
Neither does the article’s writer betray any awareness of just how difficult it is for a mother to lose custody to a father in the United States. It would have been easy enough to find out, of course. An email or two to the father’s lawyer likely would have produced a good description of the facts of the case, and probably the findings made by the judge. Those are usually highly informative, and I’d bet good money they say some very unflattering things about the mother.
But the writer plainly wasn’t interested in knowing what the mother had done to warrant losing custody, so no emails were sent, no phone calls made. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
And of course, as we’ve come to expect, the father remains voiceless. Not a word of his appears, and as I mentioned, he’s nameless as well. What does he have to say about the mother of his children? We’ll likely never know.
Even if Mom were the world’s best, abducting her child so it can’t have contact with its father would be child abuse worthy of losing custody, but this mother is clearly anything but the best. Regardless, the press goes to bat for her even in the face of multiple courts on two continents ruling against her. With luck, in time we’ll know more about why the Kansas judge ruled as he/she did, but for now we can only note that the press, as usual, stands firmly by its anti-father/pro-mother bias, despite court rulings against her and her own criminal wrongdoing. Until the news media decide to report father-mother legal disputes even-handedly, children will continue to suffer the loss of their fathers in every imaginable way.