Gathering storm....Any advice?

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Hello, all. My name is Jason and I have a situation which may be coming to a head soon. My Japanese wife and I are separated, she in Japan and me in Colorado. She has our daughter with her. We separated May of 2003, I consented for her to take Dahlia to Japan with her. Although we get along very well now and do not really want to divorce, she is sounding like she does not want to come back. And of course she wants to keep our baby girl. I am considering a course of action which will entail going to Japan on a surprise "visit" and taking Dahlia back to the states while my wife is at work. Essentialy abducting her so that when the custody battles start, she will be on American soil. Given that we are still married, would that be considered a parental abduction? Would having my daughter here in the states strengthen my chances of keeping custody? Posted By:
japchap (48 posts)
3/28/2004 10:01:39 AM
re: Gathering storm....Any advic...   profile
Jason, any time a parent takes a child away from the other without consent of the other, unless the circumstances are critical and there is reason to take the child away in the case of abuse or child care neglect, there is reason to view it as a parental abduction. The only difference is what legal action could be taken against you. I know this is a message board especially for fathers, but if you can, put yourself in your wife's shoes. How would she feel if her daughter was suddenly taken away from her, to a country foreign to her? Why do you want to put her through such grief?

If you can at all communicate with your separated wife, do it. If you need a lawyer to communicate and help get your needs listened to, hire one now. DO NOT take your child away and run to the States without discussion with your wife. Many of the posters on this board and the people who have posted on are in the situation your wife would be in, that of the estranged parent. They will only echo the fact that it really sucks to be deprived of your child. If you wouldn't want it done to you, why would you do it to someone else?

I know your feeling, that you want to be on American soil. That seems fine. But you are better off by trying to negotiate with your wife, if it is at all possible to reason with her. Think of how she will feel, and how your daughter will feel if you forcibly separate them from each other. Colorado is a long way away from Japan... I don't need to remind you.

How old is your daughter, BTW? Are we talking about an infant, a toddler, a child in elementary school, or older?

Jason, why did you consent to letting your wife take your daughter with her, knowing that you would be unable to meet her very much? If you get along with your wife, what would prevent you from going to live in Japan? Do you have a Japanese spouse visa, or have you thought about getting one? If you love your daughter and want to be with her as she grows up, why not live in Japan, separate from your wife, but still able to visit your daughter frequently?

I think that as a few other people who post here can attest, if you have decent communications with your wife and can at least reason with her or finagle visitation rights on good terms, you have won at least half the battle. My wife has recently allowed me to see BOTH of my daughters every week, which I am very thankful for, even though it is still only three hours on the weekends and I miss them during the days. She has a lawyer and I have my own. Of course, I can only visit my kids while I live here in Japan.

My wife never really wanted to move back to the States. It's something we never agreed on and was one of the many bitter disputes that led to our separation. But I have a steady job at least, I have friends and very supportive people in Japan, and I resigned myself to the fact that for the time being, I will have to stay in Japan to continue to see my kids. As my kids grow older and can make their own decisions, they may choose to come live in the States or elsewhere if I choose to move, for a period of weeks, months, perhaps longer. Don't think that things will always be the way they are. People change, and it seems ultimately better to face the fact that although things may not be ideal right now, they will change in some way, with patience, time, and effort.

Bottom line is, I'm just afraid, Jason, that you may be agitating the situation more than need be, by considering abducting your child. There are other options, and it would do you well to think hard about what your child needs, and what you need. You need to have a long talk with your wife, about the future, about what you both expect, about what is best for your child. If you can't talk reasonably with her about it, talk with her parents or your own. If that doesn't work, you may want to call on friends, relatives, or even counselors or professional negotiators for assistance. Good luck in all of this, and keep us posted or feel free to write more. None of us have all the answers, but all of us in some way share your frustration and want to see things work out for you and your family.

- JC

Edited 28/03/2004 14:53:07
Andrew (51 posts)
3/28/2004 11:03:12 AM
re: Gathering storm....Any advic...   profile
Although we get along very well now and do not really want to divorce, she is sounding like she does not want to come back.

Have you considered moving to Japan to live with them? I'd give up my ties in the UK to live with my son, without a second thought. If you both truly do not want to divorce, why are you separated? Is it a disagreement about where to live?

I also think re-abduction is as bad as the original abduction. Both are unsettling for the child.

Anyway, it sounds like there's a lot to play for in your situation (the fact that you both don't want to divorce).
JBrown (2 posts)
3/28/2004 9:07:52 PM
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Thank you for your replies, guys. I can see the point about the traumatic effects of abducting her. As far as living in Japan goes, my main problem is that of employment. I was a mechanic by trade, and spent the last year preparing for and getting a job in law enforcement, which I have just started this past week. My wife lives on Okinawa, which is not the best place for a foriegner to look for a job. We have been apart almost one year now, and it does not sound like she wants to come back here. I have tried to convince her that Hawaii would be a lovely compromise. Lots of Japanese folks and a climate very similar to Okinawa. There is definately room for discussion. I am just very concerned that if it comes to a divorce, all is lost if she and my daughter are there. I let her take our daughter to Japan because she is frankly a wonderful mother, and I was just getting ready to start my academy. I was never going to be home, on a daily basis, for several months. And my wife does not really enjoy the US. She has a visa, but is very comfortable with her job now. Again, thank you for your responses. I will consider the matter more before doing something rash.
emiliejames (1 posts)
10/26/2004 1:06:47 PM
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If I could have my time again, the divorce, the kids, I think I would have done what you are thinking, take them back to my "home, in this case the UK. The problem is, that it just isn't right. Don't let yourself sink to the same depths as she has. Fight from a strong stance and don't give in.

I gave in. It nearly killed me. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that one day, the kids would have to at least ask about me. When they do, I'll be there for them.
japchap (48 posts)
11/10/2004 3:39:41 AM
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Everybody in a divorce situation with kids finds that they have to "give in" at some point in time. Sacrifices must be made. But if you make your decision carefully, considering all of the factors, and act in a manner that you know will leave no personal regrets, then you have your integrity.

As far as integrity goes, I don't see how many of the Japanese wives that take the children away from their separated or divorced husbands can say that they are acting from a position of integrity. How can they live with themselves when they wake up in the morning? Don't they see the effects on their children? I have found a sort of answer to that, which is that their anger or jealousy so often consumes them, that they cannot think of anything else. Divorce is now a fact of life in today's society - it happens to the best of us. The question is no longer how to avoid divorce (although that may be a perfectly applicable topic) - it is how to act like an adult and look out for the best interests of your children and for yourselves, thinking rationally in the event that divorce actually does happen.

Most of us are not, were not prepared for divorce and all it brings. We got married without thinking, without seriously considering the very real possibility that everything may go all to hell one day. I might suggest that couples nowadays who are considering marriage should honestly discuss their feelings about what should happen if there are major grievances or disputes, and how a theoretical divorce could be handled. Some people might complain that this is a defeatist position, but I think it is in perfect touch with reality. Just because you talk with your "better half" about what should happen in the worst case of divorce, doesn't have to mean that you will plan to divorce. Au contraire - it signifies that you are both very much in touch with the fact that things can and do happen, and that you are both committed as adults to working them out.

- JC
MacJap (3 posts)
12/17/2004 3:06:58 AM
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OK guys I'm the devil here. I understand every point you are all making BUT in my case my children do not want to live with their mother (she is unstable) but if she takes them I have no choice but to take them back in the same way because Japanese law and courts are stacked against "GAIGINS". I now have custody in Japan.
I your case you say you have a good relation with your wife well then try and work things out amicably but remember once you are divorced in Japan there is NO WAY to inforce any visitation agreements. So if you make an agreement then I suggest you get a guaranty in writing of you right and back it up with a MONETARY compensation clause ( a bond or property) something that you could actualy take from her or her family if she changes her mind and does not keep her promise, and make it something that they would have trouble parting with. Just to make thing clear my ex-wife left me and the kids 2 years ago even before that she was not a very good mother I did most of the care giving and working, after10 years of marriage she wanted her freedom and left to have fun with her friends. We made allsorts of promises she never even tried to keep one now that her life did not turn out as she dreamd, she is back and making my life HELL she is angry that some how i did survive and have even moved fowared. Now she has threatened to take the children on many occasions and now even her mother who I was fine with has gotten involved (she knows her daughter wil just give the kids to her) so from now on the only way I let them take the children is to bond there home so that if they do not return the children I can take there home and land. This may sound mean but keep reading about all these "gaigin" fathers that lost there kids and visitation right and you will see it's better safe then sorry.

FRIJ recommends you also visit crn japan, who are fighting international abduction to Japan and working to assure children in Japan of meaningful contact with both parents regardless of marital status