Custody extradition cases hang in the balance

On behalf of Peterson Stark Scott posted in Family Law on July 16, 2015.

A woman who endured years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her second husband was forced to leave three children with their father. The violence, the couple’s divorce and the forced separation occurred in the United States. The mother found her way to Canada five years ago when she and her children attempted to escape the savage beatings by the woman’s former husband.

U.S. officials charged the mother with abduction and multiple violations of a child custody order, punishable by more than three decades in an American prison. At the time the family fled to Canada, the husband had sole custody of the couple’s children.

The children left their father’s home and temporarily lived in an abandoned house, while pleading with their mother to rescue them. The woman refused to take them in for fear of repercussions from a family law court. Unable to endure the children’s suffering, the mother arranged to move to Canada.

U.S. authorities are extremely sensitive to international custody disputes involving the removal of children. The legal question now is whether Canadian officials ultimately will allow the woman to be extradited. The mother, an alcohol abuser until four years ago, claims she fled to protect her family.

The ex-husband told authorities his former wife took the children. The children have consistently argued they left home to avoid abuse and would rather stay in foster care than return to their father. A provincial judge initially denied extradition based on the mother’s claims, but a court of appeal reversed the decision.

The matter is now in the hands of the Supreme Court of Canada. The outgoing justice minister also has the power to stop the extradition, but has made no move to do so. Child custody disputes can create serious legal problems for parents who take matters into their own hands rather than contact a legal adviser.

Source:, “Canadian woman faces 33 years in U.S. prison for protecting kids from abusive father,” Matthew Behrens, June 24, 2015

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