Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gone in 60 seconds-Ex-wives whisking away their children to undisclosed locations to prevent father's visitation rights-trend on the rise-Contempt of Court

Publication: Bangalore Mirror;
Date: Sep 7, 2010;
Section: City;
Page: 10

Gone in 60 seconds

Ex-wives whisking away their children to undisclosed locations in a bid to thwart their ex-husbands’ visiting rights is a trend that’s fast catching up in the city

Shyam Prasad shyam.prasad1@timesgroup.com
    Even though a family court in Bangalore granted Raghuram S the permission to visit his son Tarun once every 15 days, Raghuram woke up one fine day to the news that his ex-wife had relocated to Jaipur along with their four-yearold son, without informing him. He was informed of the development by his ex-wife Suma Hanumanthappa’s advocate, that too through e-mail.
    In another case, John Varghese went to visit his two children aged 14 and 8 only to be informed that they had moved to the US along with his ex-wife. “How do I contact them? I don’t even know which state they have relocated to. This, despite a court decree that gives me the right to visit my children,” said Varghese.
    Interestingly, both these cases were settled by the Mediation Centre after a referral from the respective family courts. The Bangalore Mediation Centre claims a success rate of 80.73 per cent out of the 5,094 cases it has handled so far. The average time taken to settle a divorce dispute is 259.35 minutes or just over four hours.
    ”The high-profile case of Adita Chandra whose parents went to the Supreme Court and finally to a court in the US, to fight over his custody, made headlines. But there are so many such cases in Bangalore. Nobody is ready to even acknowledge that it is the fathers who suffer in such cases,” said Kumar Jahgirdar of Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP).
    Raghuram works in Hyderabad and used to visit his son once every fortnight in Bangalore. He was shocked to hear from his ex-wife’s advocate that she had moved to Jaipur along with their child. “Somebody informed me of my ex-wife’s intentions and I immediately moved court. The court said the case was maintainable and took it up. Weeks before the hearing, I came to meet the child and found the house vacated. Her phones were switched off and her advocate informed me through email that she had moved to Jaipur. How can I go to Jaipur twice a month? The court has been informed of this development,” he said.
    ”In cases where a dispute over a child’s custody is as yet to be settled, the court becomes the guardian of the child and not the father or mother. If the mother or father takes away the child to some other place during the hearing without informing the court or the other party, it legally amounts to abduction. But even otherwise, the custodial parent has to inform the other parent of the child’s whereabouts at all times,” said Jahgirdar.
    Kumar Jahgirdar said that cases of custodial parents whisking away their children to undisclosed locations without informing the other parent were on the rise. “Ever since the case of Aditya Chandra became big news, such incidents are on the rise. It is an abuse of the child’s rights when the other parent who is available and fit is not given the right to visit the child,” he said.

A file photo of Raghuram with his son Tarun. The boy’s mother suddenly relocated to Jaipur without informing the father

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