Unbelievable Duplicity Story number 73,456,864: “International tug-of-war in custody fight”. In order to pursue her own career, this mother deliberately abducted the daughter to the USA against the wishes of the girl’s father and denied the girl a meaningful relationship with the father for some years. She arranged a fake contact visit with the father to distract him from her real plan to leave the country, then took off with the child while the father waited to see his daughter. She then failed to honour agreements concerning returning the child to NZ.
After several years during which she used US Courts to try to keep the child there, Hague Convention law eventually required her to return the child to NZ. The child still remains in the mother’s care and now the NZ Family Court will seriously consider allowing the mother to take the child away again. No doubt the fact that the child has been living in the US for so long now and is ‘settled’ there will be trotted out as it always is when mothers withhold children from fathers, against Court agreements or orders, for long enough (and the duration of Family Court processes always ensures it will be long enough). No doubt the mother’s welfare and her career development will be put forward as equating to the ‘best interests’ of the child.
Note that the newspaper article did not once use words such as ‘kidnapped’ or ‘abducted’ to describe the mother’s actions. Such words are always used when a father does anything like this. Note that no police appear to have searched for and rescued the abducted child, as would usually be the case when a father takes a child away. Note that the article’s quotations from comments by law expert Mark Henaghan suggest he is well indoctrinated into our Family Court’s favouritism towards mothers (and females generally). He makes it clear that our Family Court will think nothing bad of the mother’s actions, will not see depriving a child of a father as abusive or as having relevance to decisions about the child’s future care. He implies that the child might be ‘better off’ in the mother’s care overseas and the fact “the mother is trying to set up a life for herself” adds something to her case! In the next breath he claims the Family Court is governed by one principle: ‘what’s best for the child’. Yeah right, what a convenient smokescreen.
If a father had done exactly what this mother did the story’s headline would include words such as ‘abduction’ or ‘kidnapping’. He would have been portrayed by media and by the chosen Family Court commentator as a selfish man who was more concerned with his career and wealth than the needs and feelings of his child and the child’s mother, and his actions would have been portrayed as abusive to the child, the mother and the child’s extended family (who may well have been interviewed to emphasize how they suffered and what the child missed out on). The child would have been removed from his care either in the US or as soon as they returned to NZ. His only contact with his daughter, if any, would be supervised contact for 90 minutes per fortnight in a demeaning, abnormal situation. It would be made clear that the father’s contemptuous actions would be treated by the Family Court as strong evidence that he was not a fit and proper parent and that the child’s best interests were unlikely to be served by remaining with him. But when it’s a mother, it’s a whole different story. The story we see here.
The Family Court will carefully censor what is released to the media. Already, what the media was given appears designed to encourage public sympathy for the mother, and that will continue. Any bad stuff that comes up in the proceedings about the mother will be suppressed, but not so for the father. The father’s concerns about fairness towards him and the child’s welfare will not be allowed to reach the public, but the mother’s concerns may well get aired. If the Court’s favouritism towards the damsel becomes too obvious and difficult to hide, the judge will simply disallow any further media reporting.