A lawyer breaks the case down for momlogic.
Christopher Savoie, 38, is imprisoned in Japan for kidnapping his children while they were walking to school with their mother, Norika Savoie. Back in August, his ex-wife had snatched the children from America and fled to Japan. Christopher has since been granted full custody by an American court.
We spoke with attorney Ron Brot, a lawyer who handled many international abduction cases, for more insight into this case.
"This case has as many red flags as you could ever have for a potential child abduction," he says. "Christopher had the suspicion that his ex-wife might try to abduct the children. He did everything he was supposed to do -- he went to court to report his suspicions, and for protection. But that's not to say that nothing else could have been done here."
Three things that were not done in this case that could have prevented the outcome, according to Brot, are as follows:
• In March, Savoie could have requested a court order in Japan consistent with the one he had in place in the U.S., but he did not do that.
• Christopher didn't get his kids' passports BACK when his ex and their children returned from a summer vacation to Japan. She fled with the kids two weeks later.
• In some states, you can even require a bond before a parent takes the kids on an international vacation. Savoie had the option of requesting that bond. That way, he would have a fund to help cover the astronomical cost of international litigation in Asia.
Brot says that Savoie went about getting his kids back the wrong way. "I understand his desperation and emotionalism, but that doesn't mean what he did was right," he says. "Re-kidnapping his children has landed him in jail, and just complicates an already complicated situation."
Now Christopher faces up to five years for the attempted kidnapping of his own children.
Most children who are abducted are taken by family members. Brot says that if you're worried that your soon-to-be ex might abduct your child, there are some steps you can take:
• Beware of dual citizenships. These are a red flag that you may be dealing with a possible future abduction.
• During a divorce, if you run the table and make your spouse feel like they have nothing to lose, they may do the unthinkable because they have nothing to lose. If your spouse ever threatens to take your children, that threat cannot be taken lightly. (Christopher's ex at one point had said: "You have no idea what I'm capable of.")
• Make sure you are using appropriate lawyers who will make sure the proper orders are issued -- such as an order that your spouse can't leave the state, for instance, or the country without court permission. (Savoie had this -- but didn't obtain the same order in Japan, which might have helped.)
• Retain originals of your child's birth certificate and passport.
• Register your children into the U.S. Department of State Passport Services Lookout System. The registration will enable you to be contacted and informed if anyone applies for a new or replacement U.S. passport for your child. The system will also alert all national passport agencies and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad if a parent registers an objection to the issuance of a passport for the child.
• Have your local law-enforcement agency fingerprint your child.
• There are many GPS tracking devices on the market now that you can place in a child's backpack, or ones that are implanted in their shoes, that you may want to consider. "We're not to the point we're going to implant our children with microchips, but we do LoJack our cars ... aren't our children more important than our vehicles?" Brot asks.
Our thoughts go out to the family at this time. Do you think Christopher should be in jail for trying to "abduct" his own children? Comment below.