DwightVanWinkle comments

Posted in: How a meaningless argument ended in murder See in context

It's possible the arrests were made and confessions obtained before DNA confirmed who it was. The police may have had an idea it was Sagara, based on size and estimated age, and may have already suspected some or all of the suspects that were arrested. These people may already have been interrogated after Sagara went missing. The statement about DNA may just mean that identity of the corpse could only be confirmed by DNA analysis, which could have taken place any time between October 6 and the date of this article.

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Posted in: 8 ambassadors urge Japan to solve global child custody disputes See in context

"The only thing she did was marry well" - 18-year relationship, 14-year marriage, M.D.-PhD, 2 kids, bilingual mother, father, and children, great business success. Sounds like they both married well, and that's how Japanese law views property division when the wife does not work. It's also how any decent and rational human being views a marriage. She got nothing she was not entitled to in Japan.

"What evidence do you have that while during the court hearings in the US she was willing to do visitation if she was to move back to japan?"

She said she had never wanted to keep the children from the father, and her moving back to Japan does not show she did not mean that. The father has never claimed she wanted to keep the children from their father. He just said he wanted legally enforceable visitation, and did not want to be beholden to her for visitation. The father told a Japanese newspaper, when asked whether he wanted to live in the U.S. with the children, that Japan was fine as a place but would that the legal system would not guarantee visitation. Completely understandable, and if the move to Tennessee had worked out, it could have been great. In retrospect, forcing a divorce under Tennessee law, under the circumstances of divorce and quick remarriage, did not work.

It is clear from the hearing transcript that the stress on the mother was great - one of the parenting coordinators said that the first 2 years of a divorce are always traumatic, even with an American couple, and she thought the mother was sincere in trying to make it work. It didn't work, and blaming the mother helps nothing.

The mother was prisoner to assumptions about what Japanese mothers always do, which contributed to what she did. It was a vicious circle of fear, and I do not consider her moving back to Japan as proof that a Tennessee divorce was the only way.

Neither parent should be condemned. Both parents broke the law. Japan has shown leniency. I hope Tennessee and the U.S. will also. Criminalization of custodial interference is designed to keep broken families together, not to further divide them.

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Posted in: American father arrested in Japan had asked Tennessee court for help See in context

Lack of "home state" is not a flaw. It's a design feature to account for as many situations as possible. Google UCCJEA.

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Posted in: American father arrested in Japan had asked Tennessee court for help See in context

Politically, the Savoie case may or may not hurt the Hague Convention issue. I think it would have helped because the father would have had less reason for fear of his wife's going back to Japan, and thus oppressive measures such as seizure of children's passports would not have occurred. But the bigger problem in the Savoie case was that Japan's family law does not ensure fathers' visitation. I don't think that justified a Tennessee divorce, but it was the justification. I think such reforms to Japanese family law would be good for Japanese fathers as well, and Prime Minister Hatoyama agrees.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Cicada, the Hague Convention rules are very flexible and leave a lot of discretion with the nations that sign on. I was thinking maybe Japan and the U.S. could do a bilateral agreement, or Japan could make "reservations" that would make it willing to sign. Them I read the Hague Convention, as you should. It is really very flexible.

Seems like you are just here to hate on the father and Hague Convention. Am I wrong?

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Posted in: American father arrested in Japan had asked Tennessee court for help See in context

Cicada said:

"Well, if you are right this time, that's too bad, because it (Japan not considered home state in this case) is an indication of serious flaws with the Hague Convention."

No, it's not. "Home state" is just one way to have jurisdiction - it means the state the children lived in for 6 consecutive months when the divorce was filed. Even two days later, the children were now in Tennessee because the mother brought them there.

There was now no "home state" under this law, because they had not been in Tennessee for 6 months. So the next test, "significant connections," applied. Both parents lived there and said they planned to keep living there, so I think a judge could say this test was met.

In hindsight, seeing what happened, it's easy to question whether this was a good decision. In the same way, it's easy to say the mother was lying in March because what she did in August. That's not fair and accurate though.

I still think the Tennessee divorce was unfair and a mistake, but if it had worked we would not be having this discussion and saying that the divorce should have been filed in Japan.

You're wrong that this case is an argument against the Hague Convention. If Japan had been part of it, this might not have happened. The bigger problem in this case is Japan's lack of enforcement of father's visitation rights. That's the problem in the Toland case also - his child is in Japan and always has been, so I don't even consider that an international abduction case.

The Hillman case is a good example of why Japan needs to join Hague. Sean Hillman was born in the U.S. and taken back to Japan. Hague would have provided a quick and sure process for getting him back to his country of habitual residence.

There are many parts of the Hague Convention that allow a country's courts a lot of flexibility, but it gives a presumption that the children will be returned quickly to limit the harm to them of removal from their habitual residence.

I think this Savoie case caused the children the harm that the Hague Convention is designed to prevent, by bringing them from Japan in an unstable situation. And then just as Tennessee was starting to become their habitual residence, they were taken back to Japan. In retrospect, the only way to do it was with the mother's cooperation, slowly. It couldn't be forced.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

If anyone is still reading, I think I was wrong to say Japan was the home state of the kids for determining child custody. Even two days after they moved to Tennessee, the question became whether they had significant connections to Tennessee. I still think the mother was treated very unfairly by the father, and that this case is very different from the usual child abduction to Japan case. I also still think the mother deserves to believed when she said in March that she had never wanted to keep the father from seeking the children. And although this is in retrospect, I still think that this divorce did not belong in Tennessee because of assumptions about the mother, who is also a victim of the Japanese system. She's not the one who chose to marry into that system.

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Posted in: American father arrested in Japan had asked Tennessee court for help See in context

If anyone is still reading, I think I was wrong to say Japan was the home state of the kids for determining child custody. Even two days after they moved to Tennessee, the question became whether they had significant connections to Tennessee. I still think the mother was treated very unfairly by the father, and that this case is very different from the usual child abduction to Japan case. I also still think the mother deserves to believed when she said in March that she had never wanted to keep the father from seeking the children. And although this is in retrospect, I still think that this divorce did not belong in Tennessee because of assumptions about the mother, who is also a victim of the Japanese system. She's not the one who chose to marry into that system.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Amerijap, I don't think it's what she said that is the problem. That was 4 months earlier and could have another meaning - that she had always intended to let the father see the kids. The problem for her residency is what she did. She left, in violation of the court order. For the sake of the kids, I hope that can be resolved, because her not being able to come to the U.S. is going to make it less likely they come here anytime soon.

This is a tragedy, because the U.S. court will have to be concerned about sending a message that Japanese mothers can violate U.S. court orders, and the Japanese prosecutor, and court if it goes there, will have to be concerned about sending a message that self-help by foreign fathers is OK. So all this publicity is going to make it harder to get leniency on both sides, which I think could help the children.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Cicada, just to be accurate, Noriko Savoie brought the kids back to Tennessee after the vacation in Japan. The kids then went on a trip with the father and his new wife, I think to New England. For whatever reason, she came back, then left again.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

DerekJ, foreign countries are considered states under the UCCJEA. 36-6-208. 36-6-216(a)(1) should apply with Japan, not Tennessee as the home state, because that is where children were residing with a parent for six consecutive months immediately prior to commencement the child custody proceeding.

(a)(2)-(4) only come into play if there is not a home state under (a)(1)

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Igotchu, what you say about how it's done in Japan, which is about what I thought, is not at all the picture Savoie painted for the Tennessee court. In that latest CNN video, the new wife even says the father told the little boy that "they" don't allow daddies to see their children in Japan. That is sickening that the boy was told that.

That picture of the Rising Sun flag with mom's red face as the sun was also some pretty sick propaganda by CNN.

Gotta go - been spending way too much time on this. Typical CNN, pushing people's buttons with a bogus story. This one really bugged me. Thanks for the discussion and insights.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Igotchu, it is irrelevant that the father was in Tennessee for six months. The children would have had to have been their with either parent for six consecutive months.

There has been too much focus on Chris' "rights of access." The real question, given this family's situation, could and should have been actual access, which the father has never been shown would have been denied, any more than he has shown that a Japanese divorce would get the mother less money.

The lawyer on CNN says she would have gotten "small money in Japan, and big money in Tennessee." This is basically a claim that the money was to buy an American court order guaranteeing right of access, but I think it is clear that it was at least as much a purchase of a move to Tennessee so that access would be convenient for him and his new wife.

Assuming the lawyer is telling the truth about the mother's understanding, that is no way to move one's soon-to-be-ex-wife and children to a foreign country. There is no way the parents could know how that would turn out.

This was much too risky for the children, and the Tennessee court should not have enabled it. If it did it on "fundamental human rights" grounds, then that was a serious mistake.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

No, igotchu, not this case. Watching this video made me cringe.

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/02/japan.savoie.custody.battle/index.html?iref=mpstoryview#cnnSTCVideo

The lawyer comes right out and says the mother came to Tennessee knowing she would get a divorce, and the father paid the mother $800,000 in cash, up front, in return for a promise not to take the children back to Japan. The lawyer says she did it knowing she would get a better financial settlement in Tennessee than in Japan.

Child custody jurisdiction should not be for sale. There are reasons for the rules, and a court that doesn't follow them shouldn't be surprised when the harms the rules were designed to prevent come to pass.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Thanks OneforAll - I agree Japan should sign Hague, for the reasons you state so kindly and eloquently.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Igotchu, I found a quote from the drafters of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act: Moreover, "jurisdiction exists only if it is in the child's interest, not merely the interest or convenience of the feuding parties, to determine custody in a particular state." See Commissioners' comment on §3 of the UCCJA, 9 U.L.A. 309 (empahsis in original)["child's" underlined in original].

I understand the fundamental human rights argument about weak protection of divorced father's rights in Japan, and although I think it is a stretch, perhaps it can be made in the abstract here.

But there's no way you can convince me that in this case, this father's fear of potentially not being able to see his children overrides the problems created by rushing this case through a Tennessee court.

Waiting six months before filing the divorce and letting the mother get used to the situation in Tennessee, without dealing with divorce litigation, might have made this work. We'll never know.

I don't see how things could get uglier for the children than they already are, and I also don't see how this case helps advance this father's rights, or any father's rights, in Japan. Even if it does, it doesn't help these children, who are the only important consideration. Blaming the mother and blaming the father only hurts the children. I hope the authorities can wind back the clock so that neither parent is treated as a criminal and both parents can be part of the children's lives in Japan and the U.S.

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Posted in: American father arrested in Japan had asked Tennessee court for help See in context

Reichuru, you make a good argument. We have no way of knowing what was going through the mother's mind. But even if what you say is true, it just shows why U.S. law doesn't let parents bargain on jurisdiction for child custody decisions.

I think the money is a separate issue. Whether $80 or $80 million was a fair split after 14 years of marriage, that split could have been made in Japan or the U.S. The money also benefits the children and is partly a reflection of her efforts anyway, so I think the idea of her getting some kind of windfall is misplaced.

Child custody issues must be decided in the children's home state, which in this case was Japan.

Maybe if they had waited six months for Tennessee to become the home state, like they should have, the mother could have settled in without dealing with the divorce proceedings, and this tragedy wouldn't have happened. We'll never know.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Igotchu, it's possible the Tennessee court decided not to recognize Japan as the home state because its child custody laws violate fundamental human rights. I'm sure there are many that would say it does, but I would be surprised if a Tennessee court actually made that determination, because I don't believe that is true.

If the Tennessee court did that, then I don't see how telling Japan that U.S. courts won't recognize Japan's family court orders is going to make Japan more willing to recognize U.S. family court orders.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Igotchu, I know the Tennessee court did its best to deal with a difficult case. The question is whether had the power and duty to deal with it.

The mother taking the children back to Japan is an example of the very outcome that these jurisdictional rules are designed to prevent. The decision wasn't for the parents, but for the court on behalf of the children.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

I'm not being suspicious about American courts. I'm questioning whether the Tennessee court had jurisdiction, a procedural question that affects all the substantive decisions it made.

In fact, Tennessee law appears to provide that a child custody order made without jurisdiction is not binding. See 36-6-209(a) here:

http://www.lrcvaw.org/laws/tnuccjea.pdf

Also take a look at 36-2-202, Construction and Purpose. What has happened is exactly what the law is designed to prevent. I can guess what your arguments will be in response, but I would be surprised if a liberal interpretation of six months would mean 2 days.

I don't know the answer under Tennessee law or any state's law, but the statute seems quite clear. This is a serious question, as reflected in the serious consequences we now see.

I don't know whether the parties can waive this jurisdiction question. If so, that consent should be truly voluntary. And remember, this law, which has been carefully designed and applies in almost every state, is designed to protect the children, not the parents.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

I meant:

Japan's lack of strong enforcement of court orders is not a justification for exercising Tennessee jurisdiction that does NOT otherwise exist.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Igotchu, you're talking the language and strategies of American divorce litigation, which are reflected in the documents you read. The bigger question is whether the Tennessee court should have asserted jurisdiction in the first place. Jurisdictional rules are there for a purpose, and this case is not comparable to cases such as the Wood case. Yes, Japan needs to make reforms - we know that. But Japan's lack of strong enforcement of court orders is not a justification for exercising Tennessee jurisdiction that does otherwise exist.

Frankly, if I were a Japanese judge, this case would not increase my trust of American courts. I don't think this case helps the cause of urging reforms in Japan, which is a good one. I think it hurts the cause.

http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=11250386

Please stop speculating about the motives and character of the children's parents, because that is not the issue and it only harms the children.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Here is the order granting Mr. Savoie full custody. Now, the mother's February 2009 email about "being on the edge of a cliff," which the court previously found was a reflection of the stress of her situation at the time, is now seen as evidence of mental instability. She is also accused of such things as threatening suicide and not getting medical treatment for her son. The father was already asking to be the primary parent before she left for Japan. He apparently thought that this order justified his actions in Japan.

http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/SavoieOrder.pdf

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

DerekJ, what do you make of a Tennessee court exercising child custody jurisdiction over children that arrived from Japan the day before the divorce action was filed? It seems like Japan would be the home state under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, because the children had been living with their mother in Japan.

I don't think the money is an issue, except in asking the question of why she needed to come to the U.S. to get a divorce and property settlement which seems fair. I don't see how she can be criticized for that - it's the husband that wanted a divorce so he could remarry.

I think the Tennessee court may have overstepped its jurisdiction on the child custody issue, and by doing so, created a serious mess. The mother is not responsible for Japan's legal system, and the Tennessee court shouldn't base its jurisdiction just on what might happen in Japan.

Ultimately, it's not in the children's interests to vilify and criminalize either parent. Mr. Savoie may or may not be a cad. Regardless, he is the father and has a lot to offer his children. The children will most benefit from parents that can work with each other and can travel freely between the U.S. and Japan. I hope the Tennessee court and the Japanese government can wind this mess back.

Strategic, competetive lawyering, as espoused by one of Mr. Savoie's current lawyers, has failed.

http://www.international-divorce.com/strategic_international_divorce.htm

"The analogy to a game is not inappropriate. Any serious competitor plays a competitive game strategically. Is the process of divorce any less serious than that?"

Wrong. Play games with money, but not with children's lives. Analogizing the parenting aspects of divorce to a game is indeed inappropriate.

Forcing the mother to live in Tennessee under court orders was inherently unstable and unfair to the mother, and should not have been necessary with the kind of cooperative lawyering DerekJ says he did. I can only imagine how difficult it was for the mother and children to be thrown into American divorce litigation, especially with the complication of a new marriage by the husband.

The Hague Convention is designed to prevent children from being uprooted from their habitual environment. Arguably, that's what the Tennessee court did in asserting child custody jurisdiction. This was not the way to introduce the children to life in the United States.

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

According to this article, the landlord says that Noriko still wanted the marriage to work when she got to Tennessee.

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091001/NEWS03/910010361/

There was a slight language barrier, but Nokiro was friendly, said Daniel Gardner, who rented the Franklin Greens house to Nokiro.

"I rented the house to Christopher and Nokiro," he said. "She wanted the marriage to work, but he left. She was in the house for a year and two months. The best tenant I ever had. When the police called me for a wellness check, they told me to either open the door for them or they would knock it open."

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

So the Tennessee court said $800,000 was fair, given his assets. That doesn't answer the question of whether she should have had to go to Tennessee to get that, and more importantly, it is irrelevant to the question of whether the Tennessee court had jurisdiction for child custody issues. Problems with the Japanese system are also irrelevant unless the Tennessee court has jurisdiction. This question relates to the very purpose of the Hague Convention - preventing removal of a child from its habitual environment.

But what if Nashville was the new habitual environment? Whether or not it was fair to make her come to Tennessee for a divorce, the mother did bring the kids there, agreed to the parenting plan, and they had lived there a year.

There's no easy answers, and we don't know all the facts. We know more than CNN and MSNBC, though. If they are going to make a private matter public, they should be more thorough and balanced. Even then, we'd just be talking about shadows on the wall of a cave. Maybe that's why Japanese TV thinks it shouldn't report on this case.

Press reports in Japan leave out the names, which is probably a good thing, at least for that society and for those kids. There's lots of comments at Yahoo if you want to see shadow talk in Japanese:

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20090930-00000030-jij-int

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Posted in: American father arrested in Japan had asked Tennessee court for help See in context

http://www.international-divorce.com/strategic_international_divorce.htm

"The differences between one divorce jurisdiction and another are far more than the difference between a soccer team playing at home or playing away. It is instead a difference between playing one game at home and a totally different game with totally different rules away.

"The analogy to a game is not inappropriate. Any serious competitor plays a competitive game strategically. Is the process of divorce any less serious than that?"

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Posted in: American father arrested in Japan had asked Tennessee court for help See in context

It's not clear that the Japanese Civil Code doesn't allow joint custody, and 90% of divorces are non-judicial anyway. I wonder if there is more room for crafting enforceable contractual divorces with property settlements and parenting plans than people think. I also think that Japanese culture is changing rapidly and the younger generation is more open to post-divorce co-parenting. A consensual divorce by contract might be more effective and easier on the kids than dragging a mother and kids living in Japan to a foreign court for a parenting plan and property settlement.

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Posted in: American father arrested in Japan had asked Tennessee court for help See in context

Japanese people are talking about joint custody.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyUR-sKgvzg

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Posted in: American arrested in Fukuoka for kidnapping own kids from ex-wife See in context

Tekiru, it's not so much citizenship as which state is the "home state."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UniformChildCustodyJurisdictionAndEnforcementAct

Here's an explanation by Mr. Savoie's lawyer:

http://www.international-divorce.com/uccjeachildcustody.htm

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