Kiwi father in international custody battle

TAKEN: Invercargill father Simon Maddison, in Denmark with his four-year-old daughter Emma, whom he says was kidnapped from him three years ago.
TAKEN: Invercargill father Simon Maddison, in Denmark with his four-year-old daughter Emma, whom he says was kidnapped from him three years ago.

A New Zealand man is in Denmark trying to gain access to his daughter, who he says was kidnapped three years ago.

A custody hearing will go ahead this week in Denmark, brought to the courts by Simon Maddison's estranged Danish wife, Vicki.

But Mr Maddison says the custody hearing should be put on hold until he waits for a decision from the Supreme Court for an appeal to have the hearing held in New Zealand where his daughter was born.

"Why is New Zealand letting Denmark go ahead with the custody case now and not putting pressure on the Hague Convention? The custody case should be stopped. They're harbouring a criminal.

"Where are my human rights? It's not my choice for Emma not to have her father in her life."

This has become a natural part of life for Mr Maddison as he travels to and from Denmark in a desperate attempt to get his daughter back.

In 2009, the couple, who had been married for seven years, and then fifteen-month old Emma travelled to Copenhagen for her to have treatment at a specialist clinic, not available in New Zealand, for an eating disorder.

Mr Maddison returned to New Zealand alone and expected Emma and his wife to travel back to New Zealand the following month, but she did not return.

After his wife postponed their return several times Mr Maddison realised she was not coming back and filed a claim of child abduction with the Hague Convention, which began years of battling through court hearings and several visits to Denmark.

The Hague Convention was designed to prevent estranged partners illegally taking children to live in another country.

"I've spent tens of thousands of dollars, it's broke me. This has ruined me. I don't care about the money but psychologically it's killing me inside."

He says the preparation of his case to be presented in Denmark at the civil court was not completed in accordance with arguments and evidence he wished to have submitted.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General said the Hague Convention had maintained its responsibilities.

"We're satisfied that New Zealand has upheld its obligations under the Hague Convention," the spokesman said.

Mr Maddison lost the case because a report by a senior child psychologist deemed it a grave risk to return Emma to New Zealand because of her psychological wellbeing if she was removed from her mother.

Mr Maddison made a formal complaint regarding the report and an application for a right of appeal to the Supreme Court was filed in May 2010 but in August 2010 it was declined.

But in September 2010, he received notice that his complaint to the psychology board had been upheld and they agreed the report was lacking in proper rationale, methodology and sound conclusions.

While New Zealand may have upheld their responsibilities, Denmark had not, he said.

"The abduction was proven, her residence was proven and the only other thing that needed to be proven was the [psychology] report, which was proved inconclusive. Denmark should be following up on this. They need to uphold their obligations," he said.

Two years later the case is still ongoing and Mr Maddison says he would do everything he could for his "wee girl".

"I deserve my daughter and it has taken over my life. My daughter is a victim in this and so am I."

The Southland Times contacted Emma's mother, Vicki, last night. She declined to comment.

The Southland Times