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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

April 25th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
I’ve written before about the Grant Cossey case.  He’s the New Zealand man who married an American woman here in the USA and with whom he had two children.  They lived in Orange County, California where Grant worked and then moved to New Zealand because they liked the  lifestyle.  One day he and his wife had a quarrel and the next day she called him at work to tell him she was taking his children to the U.S. and left that night without as much as a goodbye.

Cossey sought help via the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child
Abduction, filing a 250-page complaint, but to no avail. The San Mateo District Attorney
(where the children were located) referred it to Orange County District Attorney citing no jurisdiction and implying that Orange County should take the case as that is where the
couple once lived. The Orange County DA referred it back to San Mateo County because there
was no one in Orange County to prosecute.

And there the Hague application sat, with no further action taken on it.  Because the courts refused to help him under the Hague Convention, Cossey had to move back to California and get a job in his old profession just to be near his children.  At this point he’s embroiled in a custody fight with his wife.  I spoke with Cossey on the phone recently and he filled me in on some of the details of his situation that were lacking in the previous article.  Predictably, it’s a story of how a mother can manipulate the family law system to prevent a fit father from seeing his kids.

Cossey’s wife (they’re not yet divorced), apparently with the aid of her parents, abducted the two children who are seven and five, to San Mateo County in northern California.  Cossey’s entire life and employer is located in Orange County far to the south. So in order to even see his children, Cossey has to travel 1,000 round trip miles to spend the 46 hours visitation the court allows.

But even that is a blessing. While he was still in New Zealand, his wife refused him all contact with his children – no phone calls, no email, no Skype. These are little kids, they miss their father terribly and they don’t understand what’s going on.

What’s going on is that their mother has pulled out all the stops to prevent them from seeing their father.  As anyone familiar with custody cases knows, that means allegations of physical and sexual abuse of the children made by her against Cossey.  He’s already termed those claims “ridiculous,” and now the local Child Protective Services agrees.  Cossey was investigated by them three times in 6 months, always due to a new claim by his wife.  Each time the children were interviewed and even subjected to invasive physical examinations.  All allegations against him have been ruled “unfounded” by an agency that Cossey says has been “very fair in their treatment of me.”

Not so the family court of Judge Don Franchi of the San Mateo County Superior Court.  Despite the fact that their mother abducted them in violation of the laws of New Zealand and the United States, despite the fact that she refused the children all contact with their loving father, despite the fact that she’s leveled at least three false allegations of abuse against him, Cossey continues to be treated as persona non grata by Franchi.

For 4 months, he was permitted only supervised visits with his two sons, the mother setting all the rules of any visitation.  Those have given way to unsupervised visits, but Cossey’s wife knows herself to be at leisure to deny or interfere with visitation as she sees fit.  Franchi has done nothing to enforce Cossey’s visitation rights that require him to travel 1,000 miles.  Moreover, Cossey is required to pay half of the mothers’ gas costs for visitation exchanges – despite the fact that it was she who abducted the children.

In response to her multiple violations of law and of the court’s orders, Cossey filed motions for contempt and change of custody claiming that his wife is alienating his children and denying him basic parental rights. In the hearing that was supposedly to deal with his claims, Franchi ignored them completely.

The pair went to a court ordered Family Court Services mediator who recommended that a professional custody evaluation be done. That was good news for Grant who’s confident of his parenting abilities, but Franchi ignored that too, probably for that very reason.

Meanwhile, Mom and the kids are living with her parents who are well along in years and not entirely child friendly. Put simply, it wasn’t part of their plan to be custodians of two little kids at this point in their lives. They like things quiet, peaceful and organized, concepts that two boys aged seven and five grasp imperfectly at best. Moreover, the children’s grandparents have furnished their house to a great degree in white -white sofas and chairs, white carpet, etc. To say that cramps the boys’ style is to put it mildly.

Grant Cossey is out of money. He’s already spent $70,000 trying to maintain a relationship with two children whose mother is hell-bent on preventing it.  Despite the fact that the Kings County Sheriff’s Department prosecuted two contempt citations against her and the fact that she has a criminal warrant out for her in New Zealand, Cossey’s wife has the continuing protection of Judge Donald Franchi, so it looks like she needn’t worry.

If asked, I don’t doubt for an instant that Franchi would say that everything he does is “in the best interests of the child.”  What so many other people including psychologists by the basketful call child abuse, Franchi calls “in the best interests of the child.”  Parental kidnapping, parental alienation, interference with visitation, lying to the court and CPS, according to his view of things, are all “in the best interests of the child,” at least when done by Grant Cossey’s wife.  So is subjecting the children to traumatic and unnecessary medical examinations.

Still, Cossey soldiers on. He’s lawyerless now, but determined to get a reasonable deal from the court.  My guess is that he can take some solace in the knowledge that CPS knows he’s a good dad and that, with each new false allegation, the scales of Don Franchi’s “justice” may begin to tip in Cossey’s favor.

For now though, it’s just business as usual in yet another family court. Get that father away from that child!

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