Yet again, another International child abduction case rears its ugly head, with both father and children as the victims. The father, Colin Bower, received custody of his two children, ages 8 and 6 pursuant to an Order of the State of Massachusetts. Yet because his ex-wife abducted the children to Egypt, a non-Hague Convention country, he faces an uphill battle to even see his children again, let alone regain custody. Mr. Bower has not seen his children in over a year, even though an Egyptian court order allows him visits twice a month. His ex-wife has refused to follow the court order there. His ex wife Mirvat el Nady, an Egyptian national fled with their two sons during a visit with the children in the United States. Mr. Bower has made numerous attempts to see his children on visits to Egypt.
The Noor and Ramsey Bower matter points up the importance of creating a network of information between airline, other forms of international travel and the Courts to help determine whether one parent travelling out of the Country with children actually has the right to do so. While it may be the sad truth that fraudulent identification in the form of passports and other identifiers such as licenses will always be a problem, it is time a system of information be developed to avert or limit abductions. The Courts should provide information regarding Court orders of custody to a centralized information bureau for use by international carriers as soon as possible, particularly for travel to non-Hague Convention countries from which return of children is unlikely.
Until the time comes whereby this type of system is established, there are some steps you can take to help prevent this situation in the future. The following precautions may help prevent an abduction if you are separated or divorced and concerned about this possibility:
- Alert the local police and Courts of any suspicions
- Notify Courts, Airlines and Customs of the status of your divorce (any custody or restrictive orders) and whether ex-spouse may be a "flight risk"
- Secure passports, ID's etc. of children, along with copies of custody orders in a secure location, e.g. a safe deposit box or attorney's office
- Maintain regular contact with children and know their whereabouts at all times
- Respond immediately to any signs of changes of residence or vacating residence by the other parent
- Visit an attorney experienced in family law to help take steps to prevent or deal with an abduction immediately upon any signs of a problem
Visit our Long Island Divorce Attorney website for more information.