DadsDivorce Live: Legal Issues of International Custody Disputes

Athena Roussos is the attorney for George Petroutsas, a dad who is trying to get his son, Andoni, returned to him from the child’s mother who is holding him in Greece. A judge awarded full custody to Petroutsas but the judge allowed the mother to take the child with her to Greece for a final visit.

Well, now the mother is staying in Greece with the child and an international custody dispute is underway. In a previous interview, Petroutsas discussed his emotions and efforts trying to get his son rightfully returned to him.

Roussos talked with editor Matt Allen about the current state of the case, the Hague Convention and the myriad legal issues involved with international custody issues.


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5 comments on “DadsDivorce Live: Legal Issues of International Custody Disputes

    He/She/U.S./Greece all ignored court rulings. It’s a mess created by both parents.
    It is all public information, but it seems the attorney has misstated/could be mistaken about one crucial point. The father filed claiming the mother had abducted the child during the time he had given her written permission to be abroad with the child. While she was still within the authorized vacation time she was hit with a filing. It’s after that she filed in the Greek court. She didn’t run away to Greece and start filing.

    If Greece is protecting the mother, then is the US protecting the father? He has a warrant pending for his arrest. He lost a case in Greece and chose to remove the child against the court order instead of filing appeals. The Greek rulings and warrant weren’t enforced by the US court. It’s the flip side of the coin. If it’s wrong for Greece and the mother to do that, why is it ok for the US and the father? If you’re going to ask the public to give a free pass on skipping out on a ruling that goes against you and ignoring a warrant, then the mother gets the same free pass.

    Greece is not a third world tin pot regime. The Greek ruling could have been appealed to the European Court on Human Rights, IF it needed to go that far. Those courts are not run by Greece, so you couldn’t accuse Greece of protecting anyone. Why not appeal? Most people who lose in a family court chose to appeal, not abduct. But BOTH of these parents have chosen otherwise. Why should either get sympathy for the result of their actions?

    Judge Fogel initially ruled in favor of upholding the Greek rulings. The appeal court overruled him and said they didn’t need to give full faith to the foreign Greek ruling. Why is there any expectation that Greece should give full faith to the US ruling? You’re asking Greece to ignore its own standing ruling, ignore that the US courts did not give faith to that ruling, ignore that the petitioner violated the Greek ruling, and ignore that Greece has a warrant pending for the petitioner’s arrest in relation to the case. It cannot be a surprise that Greece said no.

    I also would like to clear up some misconceptions. Here are some undisputed facts:

    The child was born in California in 2005. The parents were married in California, lived in their home in California, earned their living here, and had family nearby. The mother took Andoni to Greece with father’s permission to go for one month in Nov. 2005. She refused to come back. The child never had lived in Greece before this and was rooted in California. The Greek officials and courts protected the mother after she abducted him, just as they are doing now.

    The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held in a published decision that the Greek court’s decision to refuse to send the child back to the U.S. was so wrong both legally and factually that our courts would not recognize it. At that time, our State Dept. had Greece on the list of countries in patterns of noncompliance with the Hague Convention. The father did take the child back to the U.S. (his home) in 2007 and the mother filed a Hague petition here, which was denied.

    You can see all of this in the 9th Circuit’s published decision (Asvesta v. Petroutsas) as well as Judge Fogel’s subsequent rulings. This is all public information.

    As I continue my plight to keep my son and his abduction in the forefront, comments like the one above are inevitable. I have found that most often they are from severely misguided or misinformed individuals or disguised responses from the abductor, my ex wife. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to set the story straight…

    Your title says: “Greece ruled years earlier and issued a warrant for his arrest”
    Lets just get one thing straight here…ALL this began when Despina abducted Andoni on November 7 2005, when she took him away from me. When she took him away from his habitual home, and what he knows.
    1. There is no warrant for my arrest in GR, nor any other Country.
    2. The Greek Hague Hearing never determined Habitual Home of Andoni this is what they actually said:
    Provided with proof of the above, this Court is not bound to order the return of the child to the U.S.A. As a result, the application must be rejected as unfounded on the merits; and Georgios Petroutsas is hereby ordered to pay the legal expenses of the defendant (article 176 of the Civil Procedure Code), as stated more specifically here below.
    In the presence of both litigants.
    The court rejects the application and
    Orders Georgios Petroutsas to pay the defendant’s legal expenses, namely four hundred (400) euro.
    3. Greece is the #2 non compliant signatory of the Hague Treaty.
    4. I have never fought Despina with dirty tactics, like she does with lies and fake documents. I have only defended myself and defended my good name. I have always and will always continue to stay focused on one thing… and one thing only…the safe return of my son to his Habitual Home…California.

    George Petroutsas

    Greece ruled years earlier and issued a warrant for his arrest?
    It’s no mystery. It’s only conveniently left out of the conversation by the father and his lawyer. The reason Greece is not enforcing the US Hague ruling is that years earlier Greece issued its own Hague ruling stating that the child’s habitual residence was Greece. After the father lost that Greece ruling, he abducted the child from Greece, and Greece issued a warrant for his arrest. Then the US federal case began. Why would Greece comply with a request from a foreign court that ignored its ruling and for a man that they have an arrest warrant issued against? The US did not cooperate with Greece in their Hague request.

    Greece is part of the EU. There are EU courts that defend human rights. The Hague treaty and the Convention on the Rights of the Child come from the EU. The US hasn’t even ratified the CRC, which says a child needs both parents. Those courts have handled many more Hague cases than the US. The US was a better forum for a parent who did not want the Hague treaty enforced. Greece heard the case first and maintains it has jurisdiction. The father can appeal that all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. (If he’d take the chance of leaving the US with a foreign warrant for his arrest pending.) But it’s ridiculous to expect Greece to cede jurisdiction or acknowledge a US court ruling that came as a result of the father ignoring their court order and abducting the child out of Greece.

    For a moment I thought this was a poster case of dad wronged by the system, but it’s not.

    Great Interview! Thank you Matt for giving George & Athena the platform to speak about Little Andoni!! I can’t begin to tell you how many hours we spent in Fogel’s San Jose oourtroom…only to be ridiculed in “allowing mom one more visit…” Being Andoni’s Aunt, I was often requested by Judge Fogel to be in attendance while the child was visiting with mom…Her asinine lawyer mocked me when I would not let Andoni out of my sight. he said “don’t worry, relax she won’t go anywhere.” He lied, Judge Fogel lied and as far as I’m concerned they support her breaking the law and and are supporting a fugitive and are the SOLE reason the best father on the planet will never see his son again and that a dear, mischievous little angel will never know the gift of fatherhood. Sorry, but this whole thing is wrong and so far YOU are the only one who has done anything remotely positive towards the direction of bringing ANDONI HOME! Thank you Matt for your time and your generous heart! Sincerely, Thea Sophie

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