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U.S. district court approves Okinawa woman’s request for custody of daughter in U.S.

Okinawa Times gave top play to a report on an order handed down by the U.S. District Court in Florida on Feb. 17 to the American ex-husband of a Japanese woman in Okinawa that he hand over their 21-month-old daughter to the mother. The child is now living in the U.S. with the family of the father. The court ordered the divorced husband to hand over the child based on the judgment that the mother’s claim is justifiable under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and that the child’s country of “habitual residence” is Japan. According to the woman’s attorney, this is the first time for a parent’s claim over the custody of a child in Okinawa to be approved under the convention since Japan formally joined it in 2014.

 

According to the attorney, the woman married an American man stationed at a U.S. Army installation in Okinawa and then moved to the U.S. in March 2015 with her husband, but later returned to Japan after her husband became violent toward her. She gave birth to their daughter in July 2015 in Japan. In response to her husband’s request to take his daughter to a family member’s wedding in the U.S., the woman visited Florida with their daughter in October 2015. However, she was arrested there because her husband made false accusations that she had committed domestic violence. The daughter was taken away by the husband’s parents and the husband seized her passport. The husband filed an appeal with a state court for the custody of the child and the court ruled that the mother of the husband should take the daughter under her care. The woman returned to Japan after staying in a shelter in Florida for about two months. She filed an appeal with the U.S. District Court in Florida in October 2016 over the custody of the child and attended proceedings there in January.

 

The paper ran separate inside-page interviews with the mother and the leader of an NPO, who said that the ruling by the U.S. court has given women in Okinawa who are dealing with similar problems hope that they should not give up even after their children are taken away.

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