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Dear Editor:

You may recall I posted a plea for help on a child custody case between an L-1 visa holder and his L-2 wife. They separated during their stay here in America. Mr. "L-1" got a restraining order keeping the children here in America, and promptly stopped paying any support.

This led to an Alice-through-the-looking-glass experience, with a delightful (HAH!) experience of appealing an order restricting Mrs. "L-2"'s right of free speech, association, and religion. She was restrained from speaking about her children or her custody case with anyone but me, her attorney. Or taking the children to church. Incredible. Thank the ACLU and the stubbornness of one attorney (me) that we got that order stayed, remanded, and sent back to whatever dark legal "black hole" from whence it came.

So. I filed a Hague Petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction, for wrongful retainment of the children. Though there was an agreed "removal" of the children to America, there was wrongful "retention" because Mrs. L-2 had a few visa issues. Such as, if they get divorced, she gets deported and loses custody of the children by way of INS adjudication. WHAT a nightmare. The INS handling the "best interests" of the children.

For more about the case I used in my brief, go to www.hiltonhouse.com - the wonderful site run by attorney Bill Hilton. On the file list (a truly long and rambling list of files, all of them quite good and meaty for the few, the brave, the ones doing international child custody) go to the MOZES decision, filed on Jan. 9, 2001, by the 9th Federal Circuit.

It will teach any practitioner anything he/she needs to know about the Hague Convention.

I hope the family will be returning to their native land pronto, leaving our family courts for those of their home. And I hope we can get the Immigration code changed so if dependents don't get support, they can go home without impoverishing the bleeding heart attorney who wants to help them return home. Until then, keep the Hague Convention in mind should it come up.

Merritt McKeon
Orange, California


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