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05 December, 2021
 
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NY dad flies in after son’s return put on hold

Cyprus' Supreme Court delays boy’s return to US, father asks to spend time with son before next hearing

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The father of a US-born child abducted by the mother over three years ago flew to Cyprus Wednesday night, after the country’s Supreme Court issued a temporary hold on a return order following a motion from the mother to delay her son’s departure.

(Click here for an update to the story)

Just minutes before 12 noon on Wednesday, a deadline set by a Paphos court for a mother to hand over her son, her lawyers got a ruling from the Supreme Court suspending the order until next week, essentially delaying the return of the child to the United States at least until next Tuesday, February 16, when the setting of a date for a court summons filed by the mother is expected to take place.

A similar court summons was filed back in New York in October 2017, when the Greek Cypriot mother took her son and left home. She reportedly went to a safe house with help from a women survivors network and also got a restraining order against the father. His hawyer argues that when his American client showed up in court months later to respond to the allegations, the mother was a no-show.

The father’s lawyer also rejects that the mother had ever filed a complaint about physical abuse from her ex husband, either directed towards her or the child, an allegation she had made publicly on local television. The full reasons and basis for the restraining order were not made known.

But the mother’s lawyer says her allegations were valid even years later, pointing out recent cases where women were speaking out against abuse many years later, adding that his client, a clinical psychology graduate, took action after her practicum supervisor in New York thought something was odd and tried to offer assistance.

It took two years for the court to issue a decision, with the mother’s lawyer saying the child became accustomed to the local culture and the father’s lawyer complaining about parental alienation

The case made headlines in Cyprus after it emerged that the mother, who flew with her son to the island unbeknownst to the father, appealed a Paphos court order last week that had ordered her to return the boy by 12 noon on February 10.

But in Wednesday’s motion to delay the return, the mother argued that the child should remain in Cyprus in case her appeal to suspend the order was approved, with her lawyer also arguing that there would be no mechanism to deliver the boy back to his mom if the appeal ended up going through while father and son were back in the US.

“That’s not the case,” says the father’s lawyer, who told local media that the matter should be adjudicated within the US legal system. He also said there was no question of returning the boy if a judge was to order the boy back with his mother.

“If the father is not allowed to see his son these days, he will submit a request through the courts [on Thursday] to be able to see his son during this time,” his lawyer said, without ruling out the possibiolity of extending his stay on the island beyond February 16.

According to local reports, the Supreme Court did not rule on the specifics of the mother’s claims, but it was expected that next Tuesday both parties would have an opportunity to appear before a judge to present arguments on the appeal.

The mother, who says she fled an abusive relationship, told local media that the father never showed interest in communicating with his son, a 4-year-old today who came to Cyprus when he was 12 months old.

But the father’s lawyer says his client was searching for them in the United States, not knowing that the mother had obtained a Cypriot birth certificate and travel documents for the baby without his consent. He also argues that the mother had stayed away from social media until after detectives he had hired were able to track her down in Paphos.

A case for the return of the boy was then filed in Cyprus but took two years for the court to issue a decision, with the mother’s lawyer saying the child became accustomed to the local culture and language and the father’s lawyer complaining about parental alienation.

A Paphos judge, who had ordered that the child be reunited with his dad in New York, found the mother’s claims to be unreliable, along with dismissing concerns that the boy’s relocation to the US would be traumatic.

The father’s lawyer has also raised questions over the way the mother was able to obtain documents for the boy from the Republic of Cyprus, clarifying that the father had no knowledge of the application which would have required signatures from both parents.

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