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Fatherhood/Why would an American man be upset?


QUESTION: Why would an American man be upset? He got a European women pregnant in the United States? She gives birth to his children in Europe and not will allow his children to visit the United States before child custody ends at age 18, if Jeremy D. Morley is not able to reach a child custody agreement with the American father. This is because it is easier to protect children from an abuse American father in Europe than in the United States. She says if Jeremy D.
Morley is not able to reach a child custody agreement with the American father, it is better not to have the American father around.

ANSWER: Here is my take on this matter.  First of all, we have two consenting adults (intelligent?) who for what ever reason did not take what most people in this kind of situation into consideration and that is practice safe sex....that is not just the man's responsibility, but both.  They should have both had a fairly good idea that a pregnancy could certainly be a result of their choice to have unprotected sex. Given that, they should have had some discussion of what to do if that were to happen and have some sense of trust in each other before bringing a child into this world without the benefit of having two parents to bring them up and have a positive influence on them.  If the father was abusive, I just do not understand how a woman can allow herself to get pregnant from him.  Can you?  For God's sake, I really wish that people could just figure out how they can both become good positive and involved parents to this child.   From what you have told me I don't think that either of them may be good parents for this child. Unfortunately, this kind of situation is much too common.  Perhaps they should consider giving the child up to two parents who can commit to both be there for him or her.

Wish them and the child good luck for me.

Marcos Torres

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QUESTION: The mother was told by her lawyer while she was pregnant that if her children are born in the United States, the American father could prevent her from taking her children to her native country in Europe permanently before they turn 18 years old. If her children are born in Europe than she can prevent the American father from taking her children to the United States, before they turn 18. A European woman can legally choice if her children are born in Europe or in the United States.

ANSWER: This involves a couple with the father from the United states and woman from some country in Europe, which country also makes a significant difference as each has their respective laws. Sounds like your situation involves an unmarried pregnant woman who has not yet had the child correct? If so, she can go anywhere in the world to have this child and would then have to deal with the laws specific to that country with regard to paternity, child support and custody. If they are married, it makes a great deal of difference and paternal rights would be different than if they were not married.  In the United States for example, the father married to the woman at the time would bee the legally recognized father even if he was not the biological father.   I am not a lawyer so I cannot give you legal advice so you would have to consult with an attorney in each country concerned who could advise you of each respective countries laws regarding this.   In the United States, both the mother and father would have to abide by the final decision of the court with regard to custody, visitation and child support.  If one or the other were to violate that decree, the matter would have to be brought back to that court for another ruling on it.  It can get complicated and expensive.  It is not the father or mother who can "force" anything, it is the judge who makes the court order (decree) which would be affected by which country that court order is governed under.  For the child's sake, I pray that what ever is decided by this couple, that they put the child's needs for a positive relationship between and with two responsible parents. The parents need to get to know each other very well, develop trust and go forward to be the best parents they can be for their child regardless of what they decide to do (marry or find another partner).  If they both find other partners, they can still become excellent parents who car enough about their child to make things work as positively as possible.

May God bless you with the wisdom to make the right choices.

Marcos Torres

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QUESTION: Is it fair that the British mother gives birth in the UK and will not allow her daughter to visit the United States before child custody ends at 18, because this is the only legal way to circumvent United States law governing paternity and Custody, laws which rightfully give preference to the biological father under the US Supreme Court decision of Stanley v. Illinois. The British mother tells the American father that he can visit his daughter in the UK only if he does not hurt his daughter and abides by UK law governing paternity and Custody.

Anna Nicole Smith and The Legal Rights of Unborn Children

March 11, 2007

MSNBC News legal analyst, NYC lawyer Lisa Beth Older, Esq., appeared on MSNBC News Saturday and Sunday, raising novel concerns regarding Anna Nicole Smith and the legal rights of unborn children that go to the heart of what is on everyone's mind.

Upon the death of Anna Nicole Smith, and with the parentage of Dannielynn in balance, New York City MSNBC and ABC News Lisa Beth Older, Esq. addressed a serious loop hole in State laws which leave the question of the rights of unborn children to the potential capriciousness of other foreign countries. This breaking news angle on Anna Nicole Smith and the right of unborn children and viable fetuses has the world pondering the fate of Dannielynn and the human rights of all unborn children. Custody, paternity and DNA testing needs to be addressed in these cases as well as in the case of Anna Nicole Smith.

Foreseeing the problem of parental kidnapping of children and forum shopping for custody, paternity and DNA testing results, most States have already adopted UIFSA, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, and the UCCJEA, the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and both sets of laws provide State courts with the power to determine paternity and custody where there is more than one state involved, such as where one parent kidnaps or brings a child across state lines. The laws rely upon the notion of "home state" jurisdiction, which is defined as the Court located where the child is born or has lived six months prior. If Congress does not act to expand the time of "home state jurisdiction" to include the time of pregnancy; a change from six months to fifteen months, and if UCCJEA and UIFSA is not amended Lisa Beth Older argues that the unborn child is potentially deprived of knowing their biological parents and asserting US citizenship.

The UCCJEA fails to safeguard unborn fetuses conceived in the United States. The National Commission has reported to Congress that the Bahamas is currently listed as a country of concern as a country that doesn't act on applications and abide by the rules of the Hague convention for the return of abducted children to the US.

Lisa Beth Older argues that Howard K. Stern, and others like them under the prevailing law, may be encouraged to leave the United States in order to legally circumvent United States law governing paternity and Custody, laws which rightfully give preference to the biological father under the US Supreme Court decision of Stanley v. Illinois. If a child like Dannielynn is conceived in the US but brought to the Bahamas, then it is up to the biological father to rebut the presumption of legal parentage by requesting discretionary blood testing.

In the Bahamas, Lisa Beth Older says, the law presumes that legal parentage and custody and paternity, is in the man who cohabits with the pregnant mother for a significant time and enters into a voidable marriage. This is to the detriment of the biological father and to his unborn fetus. If the Bahamas does not order blood testing on Anna Nicole Smith's the unborn child the child may never know her biological parent. An unborn child has the fundamental human right to know their biological father, and to allow people, such as Howard Stern, to remove an unborn child from US jurisdiction not only sets bad precedent but also encourages other pregnant woman and their friends to flee the United States in an arbitrary effort to defeat the fundamental human rights of all biological fathers and unborn children throughout the world. As such in the ultimate analysis Larry Birkhead has an uphill battle at this point.


Forum shopping

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.

The term has become adopted in a wider context for the activity of repeatedly seeking a venue or willing listener for a concern, complaint or action, until one is found.

A U.S. district court judge called it correctly when he insisted that [i]n reality, every litigant who files a lawsuit engages in forum shopping when he chooses a place to file suit. International family lawyers work to assist their clients in that process.

In one case, a court expressly acknowledged that the plaintiff had chosen to move to the state in order to benefit from the liberal divorce laws in that state. The court found that was perfectly appropriate and did not justify a stay or dismissal of the case.

On the other hand, forum shopping is generally seen as particularly inappropriate when it is intended to secure a more sympathetic forum in a child custody case. Indeed, courts have found that the Hague Abduction Convention was designed to deter parents from engaging in international forum shopping in custody cases. Specifically, the Hague Convention attempts to prevent situations in which a parent dissatisfied with current custodial arrangements flees with the child to another country to re-litigate the merits of custody and to obtain a more favorable custody order.

Nonetheless, it may well be in the best interests of a child to remove the child from a forum which does not apply the best interests test in child custody cases to a forum which has a "better" law and practice in such cases.

Laws in the United States differ from state to state.  From what I have known with regard to preference of custody, the vast majority of cases in the US give custody to the mother as traditionally it is the mother who takes on the primary daily responsibility of raising the child, especially an infant.  Most fathers in divorce situation or unmarried situations have considerable difficulty getting custody or sometimes even visitation.  In the past what I have found really helpful for fathers is that they go through a responsible fatherhood or parenting class and learn as much as they can about child development and early learning, the more the better as this demonstrates to any court that the father is very serious about being the best father and positive influence for his child that he can be. It may also serve to show the mother that the same and calm her fears about any potential abuse. The better thing to do is for both parents to go through the same parenting classes so that their methods of raising the child are consistent which is very important in the child's development. It may also help them learn to communicate with each other better to give the child the best they can under the circumstances.  Focus should be on the child, not the parents. I am wondering why this woman seems to fear the the child could be abused is there some abusive history, anger or substance abuse issues?  If so get the father/and or mother into anger management classes or something to address any issues that make the father appear to be a potential abuser.  Get help for and resolve any problem issues with both parents.

Is it fair?  It does not matter what is fair as the issue will have to be resolved by courts in two countries making it very difficult for all especially the child yet no one really seems to be talking about what is best for him or her, only their interests. Can the father move to the UK and find decent employment there?  If he really wants to be positively involved with the child perhaps this may be the only way to show the mother his commitment and allow her to get to know him as the good and responsible father who respects her rights so that she can feel safe and good about the situation.  You can spend all kinds of time and money researching laws and old cases, talk to various attorneys but the bottom line is that both parents need to get to a place where there is mutual respect, trust and most of all commitment to doing the absolute best for their child.  The laws are put there to govern the interests of adults and to some limited extent the child. So many adults get so involved in satisfying what they believe is fair for them and do not realize the damage they do to the children, which appears to be where this is heading.

Just be fair with one another, focus on the child, and stop looking for legal ways to get an advantage over the other.


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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