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Fatherhood/How would a child feel toward her American father?


QUESTION: How would a child feel toward her American father? She is born in the United States, but has lived in the United Arabic Emirates for six months with her American mothers consent. Her American father will not allow her to leave the UAE, before her 18 birthdays? This because under the UAE legal system does not have to pay child support to her American mother and would have physical custody of her. She knows that if her father were to let her live in the United State, under the US legal system he would be the non-custodial parent and would have to pay child support to her American mother. She and her American father are American citizens (are not UAE citizens). Because she has lived in the UAE for more than six-months with her American mother consent her American father can legally under US law prevent her from leaving the UAE and not allow her to return to the US before her 18 birthdays.

ANSWER: This is a very complicated question.  What I feel about this is that the parents do not have a very good relationship and trust with one another.  I would imagine that the father makes a very good income in the UAE and would be able to pay child support for the times that the child was with her mother in the US.  Unless the mother is unfit, it would be best for the child to spend as much time with her mother as she does with her father and for the mother to also pay some child support to the father when the child was with him, depending on her income of course. It works best when parent can agree on amounts they should pay each other and maintain good communication on how they are dealing with parenting issues such as teaching discipline and should be as consistent with each other's methods as possible.  Laws are different from country to country and make these things very difficult, which is why it is so important for parents to be fair with each other as possible for the sake of the child.  It is very important for the child to have as much contact with both parents as possible.  If the child grows up with only contact with one parent and later learns that her father kept her from being with her mother, she may resent him.  If the father is doing this just to avoid paying child support, he is not what I would consider an good, responsible father who puts what is best for his child over his need for keeping his money.  If this was a joint decision with mother agreeing, this is just as bad for her as well as the fact that she is not developing any kind of real relationship with her child.

A sad situation but one which is more common than you think. I hope that they can arrive at a solution that takes what is best for the child and gives that priority.

Best of luck with this.

Marcos Torres

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QUESTION: The problem is that child support sucks for man in the United States, and men only want children if they do not have to pay child support to the mother and are the custodial parent. It is also cheaper for him to raise his daughter by him self and pay all the expenses in the UAE than it is to pay child support to the American mother under US law. Because the child knows that she can speak to her mother every day and her mother can visit her in the UAE any time she wants to, she canít complain that her father is preventing her from seeing her mother.

Forum shopping is the informal name given to the practice adopted by some litigants to have their legal case heard in the court thought most likely to provide a favorable judgment. Some jurisdictions have, for example, become known as "plaintiff-friendly" and so have attracted litigation even when there is little or no connection between the legal issues and the jurisdiction in which they are to be litigated.

Examples include the attraction of foreign litigants to the United States due to its expansive acceptance of personal jurisdiction and favorable litigation climate, and the United Kingdom for its stricter defamation laws.

Conflict of divorce laws

When people's lives were mostly confined to a single state, local court orders for maintenance and child support, and for contact with, and parental responsibility for, any children of the family were administered through a relatively trouble-free system. But, as the borders between states became increasingly porous, people moved in search of employment, to build businesses or, simply, because they could. The marriage of people with different nationalities or domiciles therefore became more common. This has produced serious problems for the parties and for the court systems which are now expected to accept jurisdiction over persons sometimes only transiently within their territorial boundaries, and to enforce the judgments and orders of foreign courts. These more technical problems can be made worse by any personal animosity between the parties which contributed to the marital breakdown. In some more extreme cases, spouses move themselves and/or their assets to other jurisdictions to evade their obligations or liabilities, or they move to establish personal jurisdiction so that they can engage in forum shopping. Hence, suppose a German man marries a Turkish woman and they live in Poland until the breakdown, at which point the wife goes to Nevada because she has heard that the courts of the U.S. allow quick divorces and give generous maintenance and property settlement awards. When he hears of this plan, the husband moves himself and all his assets to Ireland because he has heard that Irish courts do not recognise and enforce U.S. divorce decrees and their ancillary orders.

ANSWER: You are absolutely right and it is ultimately most unfortunate for the children involved in these situations.  While laws are seen to keep order and protect, they are often used for just the opposite such as forum shopping.  It is up to the adults to find out what is best for their children and act accordingly, to do otherwise as this father is simply morally and ethically wrong.

Thank you for sharing your expertise with me, I pray that a solution can be found that helps this child out.

Take care,

Marcos Torres

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QUESTION: How old would a child have to be in order to understand the following?

She knows that if she is born in Japan and does not leave Japan before her 18 birthdays, her mother can legally under US law prevent her from returning to the United States.

If she is born in the USA or if born in Japan and visits the United States before he 18 birthday, it is a crime under US federal law for her mother to take her to Japan with out her American father or US courts consent. Those laws have noting to do with childrenís rights/welfare only parental rights and her American father is the only victim in this case.

You have a very complicated question, one that seems to fall within various international laws.

How old she would have to be to understand such complex laws and regulations?  That would depend entirely on how intelligent she was at reading and interpreting these complex laws and regulations.  Not knowing anything about her, that would be hard to pin down.  You would have to find a way to break it down to her developmental level so that she could understand small parts of it at a time and build on that.

In the United States, the age of majority is 18 regardless if where she was born.  Her mother or father would have no responsibility or control over her, she would be considered an adult with adult rights and responsibilities. Not having been born in the US, she would have to first obtain a visitors visa in order to enter the country and follow all the requirements to obtain citizenship is that was her wish.  With regard to who can take her where before she is 18, that would be entirely based on who has legal custodial rights that would apply and be accepted by the United States.  I do not know what the recognition of Japanese law is in the United States so I cannot speak to that.  Again, as you state, these laws do not take the child's best interests to heart and only support the rights of the legal custodial parent.  If only the custodial parent could see the value in working with the father to meet this child's emotional and psychological well being.  In order for that to happen, they would have to be able to trust each other and it appears that there is much distrust between mother and father.  Often in these international cases, the parents both fear that the other parent would not return the child to them if they allowed for the child to visit in the other country as we often see in these cases.  There would have to be absolute trust between the parents that each would honor their word and agreements.  The child is also the victim by not having an opportunity to build a true relationship with her father.  There are just no easy answers.

Take care and find a way to maintain as much of a relationship as possible.  Perhaps the mother would agree to allow Skype visitation on a regular basis, with visitation by the father in Japan when possible.  Anything that would allow an opportunity to build a relationship to the greatest extent possible.

Marcos Torres


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Marcos Torres


I can answer many questions regarding child development, best practices in child care and the fathers role in his children's development.


10 years as a child protective services investigator, 10 years administrator of a residential nonprofit program for developmentally disabled adults and children, 2 years working with parents facilitating a parenting group of first time parents with my wife using the MELD curriculum in the early 80's. Co-wrote and Administered a fatherhood grant working with young fathers and incarcerated fathers. Ran a fatherhood program in a Texas State jail and was Director of Incarcerated Programs for the National Fatherhood Initiative for a year and a half. I also raised two children now 22 and 26 who have excelled academically which I believe is from our learning the best practices in child rearing from the start.

BA in Social work in 1980 from New Mexico State University

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