A New Jersey father has launched legal proceedings against his ex-wife accusing her of abducting their son to Paraguay.
Businessman Paul Elksteen lives in Long Valley, Washington Township, but is originally from South Africa. He met former wife Rosita Berdichevsky in her native Paraguay and they married in 2003. They returned to the United States shortly afterwards and their son Keanu was born in 2005. But the couple separated the following year and eventually divorced in 2008.
Subsequently Berdichevsky travelled back and forth to Paraguay regularly, NJ.com reports. He provided his ex-wife with financial support and left Keanu with his father for periods of time. She even stayed with Elksteen and his new wife on occasion.
Eventually, however, the relationship began to deteriorate and Elksteen filed for sole custody of Keanu. In November 2013, Berdichevsky was ordered to surrender her and her son’s passport. Two days later she flew to Paraguay with Keanu and has not returned since.
Eventually Elksteen made contact and he now speaks to his son regularly on the phone.
He told the site:
“Every time I speak to him, it’s ‘Dad, I want to come back.’ “
“It’s been two birthdays and two Christmases since I’ve seen my son. It’s hard. I get to the point where I really don’t want to talk to anyone, don’t want to do anything. I miss him too much.”
The businessman initially hoped to file an application for Keanu’s return under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a multinational treaty concerned with the swift return of children taken from one signatory country into another by alienated parents.
But he was denied permission to make such a claim and told that Paraguay would have jurisdiction over the couple’s custody dispute.
Eventually, says Elksteen, he grew frustrated by what he perceived to be a lack of support from the United States government and a launched a ‘citizen criminal complaint’ accusing Berdichevsky of abducting their son.
A spokeswoman for the Office of Children’s Issues in the Statement said custody of the boy had still been in dispute at the time his ex-wife left for Paraguay. This meant that requirements of the Hague Convention did not necessarily apply.
Photo of New Jersey by Merle9999 via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence