Sunday, March 11, 2007

Australian a danger to Baby - so the headline goes

Abduction from Australia to Alabama, US

Recently reported in the Alabama Press-Register is this case of a baby taken from Australia to Alabama, US.

Mom is an American, Susan Elizabeth Beaty and moved to Australia where she had a relationship with an Australian, Gareth Baran and a child was subsequently born.

Mother claims domestic violence, heavy drinking and that dad is a threat to the child.

Dad claims mom abducted the child from Australia to the US and is standing on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for the return of the child to the jurisdiction of Australia.

The case is scheduled to be heard by a federal judge sometime later this month and it will be interesting to see the outcome - the attorney for the mother claims that the father gave consent for the removal and that he represents a clear danger to the child.

These things are never clear on the face of them - if Gareth Baran gave consent then Susan Beaty is going to have demonstrate that absolutely - she is the one who has the burden of evidencing her claims here. The issues of domestic violence, I personally think, should be better heard by the court where the evidence is available and that means back in Australia but will the federal court in the US agree ? This is a source of much debate in the US and elsewhere these days and I am concerned that this the thin end of the wedge in slowing proceedings down.

If the issue of "best interests" of one of the parents is to start playing a part in Hague Convention proceedings then it becomes much less sustainable to argue the "best interests of the child" should not also play a part in the process - at this time, the only "best interest" of the child that figures in Hague Convention proceedings is that proceedings should take place in the country of habitual residence and a return shall be effected as quickly as possible - if dad is an alcoholic deadbeat, that is not relevant to a return order under the Hague Convention but it will become relevant for the court of habitual residence just the same as if a mom is medically neglecting a child, placing them up for adoption or endangering them by placing them into contact with a convicted pedophile.

Let's see how this one gets handled by the US judge.

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