http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120307/WILLIAMSON01/303060076/Franklin-man-plans-press-case-against-judge-international-child-custody-dispute

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/749bad3e5a664aaea8d4c61a5df2c57a/TN–Japan-US-Custody-Battle

Tennessee man wins $6.1 million judgment from ex-wife who abducted children to Japan

  • JOE EDWARDS  Associated Press
  • First Posted: May 09, 2011 – 4:51 pm
    Last Updated: May 09, 2011 – 5:53 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A judge on Monday awarded a Tennessee man $6.1 million from his ex-wife who took their two children to Japan and never returned.

It remains unclear whether Christopher Savoie will ever actually get the money on behalf of his children, 10-year-old Isaac and 8-year-old Rebecca, because laws in the two countries conflict.

His ex-wife, Noriko Esaki Savoie, who is Japanese, left with the children in 2009 after she and Christopher Savoie were divorced and each granted partial custody. When it became clear she might not return, a Tennessee court issued a warrant for her arrest and gave the father full custody. But the order had no effect because Japan hasn’t signed an international treaty governing child abduction.

Christopher Savoie, now 40, tried unsuccessfully to get the children when he made a trip to Japan in September 2009.

Japanese law allows only one parent to have custody in cases of divorce — usually the mother.

Christopher Savoie said Monday after winning the judgment that the money is not paramount to him and he hopes the court’s decision might influence his ex-wife.

“I just want to see my kids,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to get her to the table so the children can have a relationship with their father and mother.”

Franklin Chancellor Timothy L. Easter awarded the amount based on false imprisonment, emotional distress and breach of contract.

“We are hopeful that the breach of contract might allow him to go about collecting damages,” said Eileen Burkhalter Smith, one of Christopher Savoie’s attorneys. “But you never know.

“Hopefully it could give somebody, in the U.S. government in particular, the means to allow this father to get something or see his kids.”

Noriko Savoie, now 39, was not represented by an attorney during the 30-minute hearing.

Christopher Savoie is attending law school and working part time as a legal intern. He has remarried and has three stepchildren.

Click the one titled American jailed in Japan over custody battle.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/33068613#33086474

An attorney who works closely with Children’s Rights Council of Japan, and who himself has had his children abducted to Japan, has noted that under Tennessee law parents must agree on a new visitation schedule, costs, and other relevant factors before a party may relocate with children. 
Tennessee statute further states that if the proposed move is to a foreign country whose public policy does not normally enforce visitation rights of non-custodial parents or which otherwise presents a substantial risk of specific and serious harm to a child is involved the relocation would be deemed as not having a reasonable purpose and would be disallowed.  (see Tennessee Code Unannotated 36-6-108)
This second clause as described above is the case we face with Japan.  Japan does not enforce visitation rights and in fact the culture encourages the total separation of parent and child after divorce.
Judge Jim Martin, after presented with OVERWHELMING evidence that Japan would not “participate” in any solution if things went wrong for visits and ignoring the evidence in the case, used his discretion and allowed the visit.  There is a possible conflict-of-interests here since the judge was previously a mediator in the case!  Granted, this was not a relocation case BUT anytime a court considers visits to a Non-Hague country extra caution should be taken.
Texas, California and Utah have enacted similar statutes to protect kids and they go as far to include temporary visits such as was originally proposed in this case.