Mother ordered to pay $6.1 million for moving children to Japan

A mother who broke a custodial agreement and moved her children out of the country has been ordered to pay the father $6.1 million in damages. And while this does not mean that the children – ages 8 and 10 – will be reunited with their father in the U.S., the father’s attorney is hopeful that it may be a step in the right direction with more pressure from Japanese officials for the mother to do the right thing.

As reported earlier on this blog, the case itself stems back to 2009. In the beginning the mother and father shared joint legal custody rights of the two children, but after the mother took the children to Japan and did not return, a U.S. county court awarded the father full custody of the kids, and the police department issued a warrant for the mother’s arrest for custodial interference.

However, regardless of the U.S. warrant, when the father traveled to Japan in an attempt to bring his children back home, he ended up being arrested and spending 18 days in jail before being sent home empty handed.

The reason for the discrepancy between the U.S. and Japan is due to the fact that Japanese lawmakers have refrained from signing the Hague Convention on the Prevention of Child Abduction treaty, which is an agreement that 84 other countries are a part of that encourages the safe return of children who are abducted and taken to other countries.

However, even though Japan is not a signed country of the treaty, the attorney representing the father has said that while Japan may not recognize the custodial interference aspect of the custody agreement, the country does enforce court orders that assess damages for breach of contract, and that this ordered payment amount is simply another tactic to put pressure on the mother to send the children back to their father.

In total the mother has been ordered to pay $1 million to the father for not only the breach of contract since she went against the court-ordered child custody agreement, but also for the emotional stress he’s endured from not seeing his children for more than a year. Other damages include $1.1 million that is actually for the children who have been falsely imprisoned; and day-to-day additional damages for every day that the mother does not return the children with the maximum cap set at $4 million.

Source: The Tennessean, “Order for ex-wife to pay millions doesn’t make up for time lost with kids, says Franklin father,” Brandon Gee 10 May 2011

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