Stefan F., Paris, Texas Suicide
Mom abducts their son to Germany. Courts sit on their hands. Dad shoots himself.
This story did apparently not run in the national news in the US, maybe not even
in the local news. Who knows, who cares? It's just another angry, bitter,
deadbeat dad, right?
Translated from German to English, from the
original text at Stuttgarter Zeitung, 2002 01 24
A mother abducts her own child - the father commits
For years the case was shuffled back and forth between
courts in Stuttgart, now a spokesman admits: We have to learn something from
A judicial battle that lasted for years in Stuttgart courts found a sad end.
A 43-year-old German-American took his own life in Paris, Texas - apparently
because he could not get to see his son anymore.
By Susanne Janssen
The judicial fight was shuffled for years between the Lower Court in
Stuttgart and the Higher Regional Court. According to the Higher Regional Court
spokesman Joachim Saam, the story has to be a lesson for the courts. "It
is a tragic matter that we regret very much," he said. It shows how a
constitutional state can be subverted. [The word was "unterwandert," but
that translates to infiltrated and makes little sense, or does it? Infiltrated
by what, by evil? –WHS]
It all began with his wedding, January 2, 1999, in Paris, Texas: The
then-40-year-old Stefan F. (not his real name), who emigrated in 1985 with his
family from Ditzingen [Germany] to the USA, married the German Angela F., who
already had a 16-year-old son from her first marriage. On Mai 13 their common
son was born prematurely. He was hydrocephalic, had to undergo several surgical
operations and is handicapped.
The marriage fell apart. September 10, 1999 Angela F. moved out, although the
American Courts granted the father access to his son. At the end of the year
Angela F. wanted to make a two-week trip to Germany, which the courts allowed
her to do. To compensate for the absence, Stefan was to be allowed to have his
son upon his return for 14 days in his care.
It never came to that: Instead of flying back to the USA on January 7, 2000,
Angela F. didn't leave until January 4, to hole up in Obersulm under cover of a
false name. According to the Hague Convention, after a year the interval expires
during which the orphaned parent still can demand his parental rights. "That is
an emergency brake for the well-being of the child, so that he doesn't have to
be handed over to a totally estranged parent," explains Saam.
However, Stefan F. still managed in time to find out the whereabouts of his
ex-wife. On February 20 his lawyer [a woman] filed the motion for the return of
his child. The proper venue for that was the Lower Court in Stuttgart, as one of
24 central offices. The journey through all of the instances began: On March 21
Angela F. got ordered by the Lower Court to return no later than April 30 to the
USA. Resorts to force were merely threatened by the Court - because a small
child was involved. Angela F. appealed the decision. On June 19 both parents
reached an agreement in the Higher Regional Court: The woman committed herself
to apply for visas for the USA. As a counter-offer Stefan assured her free
travel and accommodation.
"We know today that the woman never intended to comply with the agreement,"
says Saam. She had had only played for time. And that if anybody deliberately
intends to subvert a court decision, the Court could do little about it. "It
wouldn't have helped at all to order a bond or detention," opines der spokesman.
That would only serve to change intentions. However, how should one effect a
departure? The woman alleged that she had not been able to obtain a visa, or
that the child was supposed to be sick, or that allegedly she still had to nurse
him. "The only solution would have been to apply brute force and to put the
woman on a plane." But that would first have had to be ordered. And a motion to
that extent would have had to have been filed.
That's what [Stefan's] lawyer did, too - but on December 3 the Lower Court
rejected that motion. The woman was said to be unable to obtain a visa, and,
besides, that it had surfaced that she had no intention to ever stick to the
agreement. Therefore the agreement was said to be without substance, that all
would have had to be decided anew.
On January 8 Stefan F.'s lawyer registered a complaint about that, "sooner or
later that man would surely have received his rights," says Joachim Saam.
However, news about the latest complaint [on his behalf] no longer reached him.
According to his parents, January 7, 2002 Stefan drove into the fields at Lake
Gibbon. He left two farewell-letters: "Dear Parents! I no longer believe that
I'll get G.. Mrs. R. [the lawyer] can offer her congratulations to the German
Courts!" And a day later, "Yesterday, every time when I wanted to pull the
trigger, I saw you in front of my eyes," he wrote. "Father tried during the past
few months to get me, through work, to think of different matters, but I simply
can't forget G.. I wish I could make it easier for you."
The news triggered great shock at the chamber of the Higher Regional Court.
"We certainly would have been able to straighten things out, but, naturally,
that takes time," says Saam. "Individuals can torpedo the whole judiciary
administration. Because jurisprudence is based on the fiction that the litigants
submit to the Court." To what extent the play for time brings advantages
sometimes would be indicated by the lately concluded case of "shoe-king" Mayer:
With perpetually new motions, the court-process then doesn't end. Until all
participants, the Court too, become worn down and make an agreement. Saam: "It
is not always the good that's victorious."
Posted [at the Website of the Stuttgarter Zeitung]: 2002 01 25,
# # #
For additional information of the state of confusion and obfuscation of
German jurisprudence and judiciary in connection with international parental
child abductions (usually undertaken by the mother with the help of the courts),
refer to the following commentaries by Karin Jaeckel:
The [German] Marriage Law Reform of
1977 - misanthropic and antisocial
and, with particular emphasis on international child abduction by parents:
Divorce and Separation in Germany:
Causes and Consequences
Endeavour of Explanation
Presentation by Karin J—ckel, Dr. Phil.
Washington, D.C., June 7-9, 2001, at the
Parental Abduction Conference
organized by P.A.R.E.N.T. International, at the Hilton Garden Inn.
See also Suicide
Statistics for Various Countries
Posted 2002 01 29
2013 02 18 (reformatted to website norm)