A US father has been reunited with his children after a five year legal struggle.
Sandra Hyland, the former wife of Christian Gallo, took the couple’s three children to Argentina with her in 2008 and never returned.. Her former husband had been awarded full custody earlier the same year following acrimonious divorce proceedings.
Gallo launched a lengthy legal battle for the return of his children with help from the US State Department and the US Embassy in Buenos Aires. The Argentinian Supreme Court eventually ruled in his favour and the children were flown back to the US.
Gallo said: “I had people always saying, ‘What if it doesn’t happen?’ That wasn’t an option for me,’ he said. ‘In my mind, I knew the possibility was really, really low. But the moment that I start doubting myself, I knew I would not succeed.”
Hyland has been charged with three counts of violating a child custody order and is now thought to be in hiding. Violating a child custody order is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
Hyland is a US citizen raised in Argentina. She married Gallo, an Argentinian, in 1999 and the couple moved to the US four years later. Gallo has now taken US citizenship and lives in Lafayette, Indiana.
He says the children are still adjusting to their new life back in the US.
“We’ve not had any major problems. There are times I may have to correct their behaviors, because Sandra raised them differently than I would have — saying please, no name calling, stuff like that. My mother told me that they’ve already changed so much since they’ve been with me. We’re not a perfect family, but we’re trying.”