parent worries ex wont return kids from trip

            Posted on July 3, 2016 

Parent worries ex won’t return kids from trip

Q.  My ex-husband wants to take our three children to Turkey to see their relatives. For lots of reasons, including his having no ties here, I’m quite concerned he’ll not bring them back.

He claims that, because both Turkey and the United States signed the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention and a bilateral Treaty for enforcement, if he doesn’t return the children, I can file a case there and quickly get the kids back.
What’s your understanding of the Turkish courts speed record?


A.    As my deceased grandmother used to say: Nisht good!

The U.S. ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction on July 1, 1988. Turkey ratified on August 1, 2000. And there is a bilateral Treaty. But that doesn’t guarantee that the Turkish court system will quickly order return of your children back to the United States

Even here, many lawyers and judges have never before heard of this agreement. But you can hire a lawyer experienced with these cases. Your case will be filed in a state or U.S. District Court seeking the immediate return of your children to their habitual residence. If children are then moved .to another federal district, your case can be transferred there. Most U.S. trial courts diligently try to decide these cases as quickly as possible. And appeals can often get a fast-track decision.

I’m not suggesting that family law and the court system is better or worse here than in Turkey. The two countries have different histories. So, not surprisingly, procedures there are different than here.

In Turkey, all applications for return of children must be filed with public prosecutors. That’s a job similar to an Assistant District Attorney here in Massachusetts. Public prosecutors are also responsible for criminal cases. The reality is that civil cases get pushed to the back of their things-to-do list. And, probably, most Turkish public prosecutors and judges who eventually hear these cases have never before heard of this Convention.

If your children are found in a Turkish district different from where you first filed, you’ll need to start over by filing a new application in that new jurisdiction. After that, no matter who wins in that court of first instance, there can be an appeal. But Turkey has complex rules about where this kind of an appeal must be filed. And, there is at least one and often two levels of higher courts that can review decisions of the lower courts.

Currently, as I understand it, there’s no prospect in Turkey for the fast process contemplated in the kidnapping convention for return of children to their habitual residence. These same hurdles impact a parent who obtained a back-to-back or mirror-image order mentioned in last week’s column.

So no matter what your ex promises or how much money he puts up to guarantee returning the children, its better now to be cautious, then later crying your life away later.