army spouse stationed abroad wants kids

            Posted on July 31, 2016 

Army spouse stationed abroad wants kids

Q. I’m in the Army, stationed in Germany for at least another year. My wife and two children were here with me until the end of June. Then my wife took our children to Massachusetts to visit her family.

She just told me she wants a divorce and she’s not coming back.
I’m from Missouri, where I expected to return to live when I reached retirement age from the Army.

What can I do to get my kids back?


A. I’m assuming you’ve been in Germany for more than six months and that your children were in school there.

Germany and the United States signed the applicable Hague kidnapping convention. So you need to quickly find a Massachusetts lawyer nearest to the U.S. District court closest to where your wife is now staying. Without notice to your wife, immediately file a petition for the return of your children to their residence in Germany.

Also file a motion for a writ of habeas corpus. If granted, the first notice she’ll get about the case is when police or a U.S. Marshal knock on her door at 5 a.m. demanding she send out the children. If the Writ isn’t issued, she might take off with the children if she’s just served with a summons; and may not be found so easily.
If possible, your petition should say you have leave and will be here to go to the house when your children are picked up.

Your wife can make a Hague Convention article 13b defense. To prevent the Court from ordering the children back to Germany she has to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that if the children are returned, you’re a grave and immediate danger to them.

Immediately start to get affidavits from friends, the children’s teachers, coaches, other parents, the dentist, the pediatrician, etc. Tell them you’re gathering them to be sent to the Germany Central Authority. That way, if your wife hears about your asking for affidavits, she’ll not be inclined to quickly leave for other destinations.

Those affidavits should say the author never saw any hint of violence or cruelty, etc., on your part, but they did see you as a caring dad who brought your children to or picked them up from school, or went to their various games and activities. Those doctors should say they’ve never had complaints by the children or your wife about your being a danger to the children. Attach all that stuff to your complaint.

Even though the Army sent you there, you’re not habitually a resident in Germany, but your children still are. The U.S. Court will probably order them back there, where you’ll likely face a custody fight.

So don’t let it slip that you’ll be going to Massachusetts for your case ASAP. As the submariners used to say: “Loose lips sink ships.”