August 25, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The following is an update on a piece I did in 2011. It’s written by the subject of my article, David Shubert. Please read mine first because it provides details of the outrageous actions of Dave’s wife and the Colorado judge whose orders were plainly pro-mother and contrary to Colorado law. My sincere thanks to Dave for bringing us this update.
In 2007, I was living in the State of Colorado with my wife (now former) along with my daughter and step-son. Our marriage was a very tumultuous one and I was trying to find a way out of it. What really held me together during these times was the strong bond that I had with my daughter and step-son. They always knew that they could count on me for a smile, a hug or even to wipe away their tears. Little did I know that my life would come crashing down around me that year, as well as that of my children.
In June of that year, my former wife abducted both children and fled to Australia. In the ensuing months, I was able to have contact with the children but, my interaction with Shirley was paved with her emotional roller coaster mood swings. One day she would talk about having me join them in Australia and the next day she would rant and rave and call me terrible names. I remember in one email to me, she mentioned that she would petition me to come over but, only if I agreed to her terms. She demanded that I buy her a new car and pay her $7000. If I did not, I could go rot and she would cut off all contact with me and I would become just a memory to the children.
It took time but, I was able to find out that I did have certain rights with the Hague Convention Courts. With the assistance of the US Dept. of State, I filed a petition in late 2007 for the return of my daughter. It would take nearly a year after filing before the Hague Convention court would rule in my favor. Shortly before this happened, Shirley moved from Sydney, NSW to Melbourne, VIC to live with the man who would become her new husband. As a consequence, Shirley cut off all contact with me and I wasn’t able to speak with my children from that moment on. Shirley ultimately appealed The Hague Convention ruling and this took another 4 months to finalize. In the end, her appeal was unsuccessful and she was ordered to return with the children. Immediately, Shirley contacted the Australian Central Authority and informed them that if made to return to the USA with my daughter, she would kill herself and both of the children. She was told that if she did not comply with the Return Order, she would be placed in jail and they would have me come and retrieve my daughter.
By this time, we had been granted divorce and in 2008 while in Colorado, with the children and her new husband, we had a Court hearing in the Arapahoe District Courts to decide parental responsibilities. The judge in the case heard evidence about the international abduction, Shirley’s death threat, emails about demanding $7000 and a new car and many other pieces of evidence that should have prompted the courts to rule in my favor. The Judge, ruled that I am the biological father of my daughter and psychological father of my step-son. He also, ruled that while many of the things Shirley did, concerned him, he decided that since the children had been away for so long, the children should remain with her and allowed them to return to Australia. He failed to understand that International Courts sometimes take longer than they should to resolve their cases. He also, knew about Shirley’s previous disobedience of court orders regarding, visitation. Essentially, I was penalized for fighting to be in my children’s lives. He granted me what I considered limited visitation rights and ordered Shirley to make all important decisions with me. I knew in my heart that she wasn’t going to comply.
Immediately upon their return to Australia, Shirley cut-off all contact between me and the children again. She would go on to violate every order of the court. I would call every Saturday and Sunday morning (their time) but, it always went to voice mail. This was accompanied afterwards with an email reminding her that I am to have weekly telephone visitation and she needed to start complying. After about a year of weekly attempts to speak with James and Chianne, I tried to call but, their phone was disconnected. I contacted a private Investigator to go see if they were still living at the same address. I was informed that they did but, were in the process of moving. Additionally, they disconnected their email address so I was not even able to have contact with them via the internet. The PI was able to follow them to their new home and provide me with this new address. He wasn’t able to get me a new phone number due to privacy laws. Over the next year, four contempt motions were introduced into the courts and she was served. Each time we would have a hearing, Shirley would choose not to appear, either via telephone or, in person. Instead, she mailed her written responses and hoped that they would believe whatever she wrote.
Finally, in October of 2011, a hearing was scheduled in Arapahoe County to Modify Parental Responsibilities. Again, Shirley was served and chose to not attend. The court ordered that both of the children be returned to the USA. I was to have sole parental responsibility and Shirley was to have supervised visitation. As is the norm, a hearing was then ordered to change child support from me to her in anticipation of the children returning home to me. Several months had passed and my children were never returned. In June 2012, a hearing for child support was held and Shirley again chose to neither be present nor respond. Child support was ordered and the case was referred to the Colorado Child Support Agency to coordinate with Australia for collections. It would take about 3 years for the legal Department of the Australia Child Support to conclude that they were legally bound to comply with Colorado Court orders.
In May 2015, child support payments began but, I would not see them until October. Soon after, Shirley filed with the Australian Courts and they made the determination in April 2016 that even though, I was awarded sole parental responsibilities in the USA, Shirley in fact, still had the children with her. As such, it was ordered that she should not have to pay any additional child support monies. Basically, what they did was to ignore the jurisdiction of the Colorado Courts and made rulings in their own, all the while, ignoring valid court orders.
What made this so difficult, is that I had hoped that by forcing her to pay this money, Shirley would have no choice but to come back to Colorado to argue her case and I would finally be reunited with my children. Unfortunately, this did not happen and I am still not able to have contact with James and Chianne. It has now been 7 years since I last saw or spoke with them during their return to Colorado, but I have never given up hope of having them in my life again. Many times I wonder how they are doing, what they look like and if, they ever think about me.
Now that the Australian Courts ruled in Shirley’s favor concerning child support, I was emailed Australian court documents in which, Shirley now, is attempting to sue me for $25,000. A portion of this amount of money was legally collected through child support but, she also cites her legal expenses and what she feels is emotional trauma and time away from work. The funny thing is, it was money that she legally owed and this action was initiated through the Colorado courts that held jurisdiction and was enforced by the Australian Child Support Agency.
After 9 years of fighting to be in James and Chianne’s lives, I still refuse to give up on them. I have fought the good fight and have not lied or embellished anything presented to the Courts. On the contrary, I have had to disprove all of the lies perpetrated against me by Shirley. The system has a long way to go before it recognizes that Dads are just as good at being parents as Moms are. My children deserve to know me as their father and receive all the love and affection that I am able to offer them. It is so difficult to ever imagine going through this ordeal only to be thwarted at every corner by the very courts that are supposed to protect everyone’s rights especially, the children’s.
I am now remarried and have 2 new wonderful children. It is my sincerest hope that I will be reunited with James and Chianne and all my children will know that they each have another brother and sister.
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#parentalchildabduction, #HagueConvention, #anti-fatherbias, #parentalalienation