Custody Case transfer blocked.

Quick action blocks transfer of custody case to Canadian court, and results in arrest warrant Marc A. Scaringiissued for mom's refusal to return kids to U.S.

When a Sunbury man's ex-wife decided to move to Canada more than a year ago, the father agreed to allow the couple's two children to go with her but maintain custody over the summer and certain holidays.

What should have been a simple agreement has turned into a fight over the father's right to see his teenage children and resulted in Northumberland County President Judge Robert B. Sacavage taking the unusual step of issuing a bench warrant for the mother after she failed to appear as ordered with the two children at a Sept. 5 hearing.

At issue was the mother's surprise filing before the Northumberland and Canadian courts seeking to have the case moved to Canada, claiming the children do not want to see their father.

Quick action by Marc A. Scaringi, representing the father, succeeded in convincing Judge Sacavage to rule in favor of father's request to keep jurisdiction of the case in Northumberland County. Although the Canadian court has yet to rule on jurisdiction, the Northumberland County court ruling in father's favor will certainly strengthen father's case in the Canadian court.

In addition to issuing the bench warrant for the mother, Judge Sacavage continued the Sept. 5 hearing to Oct. 31 and reiterated his order that she appear with the two children.

"I've been involved in hundreds of custody cases and this is the first time I've seen a bench warrant issued for either party,'' Scaringi said. "It's unfortunate the case has come to this, but my client is a good father who loves his children and wants to be a part of their lives.''

Scaringi said he hopes the bench warrant will help the mother understand that she must comply with Judge Sacavage's order and allow the children to visit with their father.

Significantly, a Canadian judge refused to grant the mother's emergency request to keep the children in Canada and to transfer jurisdiction to that country. Instead the judge scheduled a Sept. 23 hearing, purposely timing it to occur after Judge Sacavage's session. Scaringi said he is hopeful the Canadian court will defer to the jurisdiction and authority of the Northumberland County court.

In countering the mother's claims, Scaringi had 17 witnesses present in court for the Sept. 5 hearing to talk about the father's close relationship with his children. Witnesses who testified included a Northumberland County Children & Youth Services case worker, the family's pastor and two friends of the children, who told Judge Sacavage they missed the children and wanted to see them again.

The father last saw his children for one week in March.

Scaringi said he is hopeful that the testimony will be enough to help convince the Canadian courts to agree that the case belongs in Northumberland County.

"There is ample evidence showing my client is a good father and has a loving relationship with his children,'' Scaringi said. "We're hopeful that we can prevent a potential jurisdictional dispute with the Canadian courts.''

The father, who had primary custody of his children before agreeing to let them move to British Columbia with his ex-wife, said the ongoing battle has been emotionally draining.

"It's been heartbreaking,'' he said. "My utmost concern is for my children. I live and breathe for them, I don't know how else to put it.''

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