Nov 08, 2011 News
…Leaves US with grandson despite court ordered stay
Yvonne Hinds, the wife of Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, is said to have left the United States with her three-year-old grandson in the middle of a custody battle for the child.
The child is the progeny of the Hinds’s son, Nikolai, and his wife, Elizabeth.
On Thursday last, the Pennsylvania Superior Court granted a stay on a previous court order which granted primary physical custody of the child to his father, who is no stranger to controversy in Guyana and the US.
The Prime Minister’s wife was said to have left the US with her son and grandson last weekend.
The mother of the child has claimed in court documents that she was physically abused by the Prime Minister’s son and she therefore feared for the child’s safety in the hands of his father.
Both parents were living in the United States under a Student Visa. Nikolai was ordered to leave the United States within 60 days after his visa expired on September 13.
The mother of the child, whose visa has also expired, has applied for asylum in the United States, stating that her father-in-law is the Prime Minister of Guyana.
Through her attorney Marcia Binder Ibrahim, Elizabeth Hinds, on Wednesday asked the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, for an emergency stay of an order pending an appeal to an earlier decision to grant primary physical custody of the child to the father. That request was granted on a temporary basis.
The mother and child were residing in Monroe County, Pennsylvania since August 18, 2011. The child was in Guyana with his grandparents for 18 months before this.
The child was sent to Guyana by his parents on December 24, 2009, owing to concerns about the conduct of the child’s father.
The child went back to the United States in November 2010, but was sent back to Guyana because the mother feared for his safety due to the actions of his father.
It was the child’s grandmother, the wife of the Prime Minister, who took the child to the US on August 18, 2011.
On or about September 27, 2011, Yvonne Hinds, and her son Samuel Nikolai Hinds, filed a complaint for a custody hearing. They filed for an expedited hearing because of the father’s immigration status, namely that he was in the US on an expired student visa.
On October 11, 2011 a conciliator issued a recommendation, which was made by an order by Judge Jonathan Mark of the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
That order stated that the parents would have joint custody of the child, but primary physical custody would be with the father. The order was to take effect in Guyana where both parties were said to reside.
Following the Judge’s order, the mother of the child filed a motion protesting the Judge’s order because she felt he did not have the authority to do so under the Rules of Civil Procedure in Pennsylvania because the state was not the home state of the child.
In the alternative, the mother moved for an evidentiary hearing, given her claim that the prior order was issued with no testimony having been taken.
On October 11, 2011, Judge Jonathan Mark ordered an evidentiary hearing, which was held on October 31, 2011.
At the hearing, the mother testified that she was physically abused by the child’s father. She described other actions that raised doubts about the father’s fitness as a parent. She suggested that further inquiry would be needed by the court in order for the Judge to make a decision in the best interest of the child.
The father did not testify in support of his petition for custody of the child nor was he asked to.
By failing to hear testimony from the child’s father, the mother argued through her lawyer that the Judge violated his duty to make the fullest possible inquiry in custody actions and so could not have rendered a decision that is in the best interest of the child.
She told the Judge that she was afraid of returning to Guyana given the fact that her father-in-law is the Prime Minister of Guyana, and notified the court that she applied for political asylum.
Following the hearing, the Judge granted the child’s father and the wife of the Prime Minister custody of the child, but the Judge did not say how he had jurisdiction to make such an order.
The transfer of the child was made in the courtroom.
According to that order, the mother would have had the child for one week, beginning in the third week in December this year. That was on the assumption that the mother would have been back in Guyana from November 17, 2011.
The mother expressed fear that since she had applied for asylum to remain the US, if the child returned to Guyana she would be separated from him permanently.
The child’s mother expressed her decision to appeal and requested the Judge stay his order expressing concern that the child would be immediately taken to Guyana, with Guyana not being a signatory to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.
However, the Judge did not grant the appeal or the stay of the order.
That prompted the mother to move to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania to stay the custody order of the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
The wife of the Prime Minister and her son have been ordered to file an answer to the motion by tomorrow.
Late yesterday, Mrs Hinds issued a statement through the Government Information Agency. “Of recent I have noticed, a lot of misleading, false and malicious information, being peddled (by persons with their own agenda), about my involvement in a recent court matter involving my grandson and his parents.
“My son went to the USA on a student visa – his wife’s status was that of a spouse of a student. My son after successfully completing his studies must return to his country of origin. His wife refused to return to Guyana, as a result my son filed for custody of his son, since it would not be in the best interest of the child to stay with a parent who is an illegal alien.
“During the custody hearing on October 11, 2011, the judge ruled in favor of the father, granting him temporary custody of the child. The child should have been handed over to the father on October 11, 2011, however, my daughter-in-law disobeyed the order of the court and she was summoned on October 31st 2011 to show why she was in contempt of the judge’s order.
“Among the many outrageous statements my daughter-in-law made in court was that Guyana was a most corrupt country and, she feared for her life here, and was in the process of seeking refugee status. When asked by the judge for documents to verify her processing of refugee status, she had none.
“At the end of the 31st October 2011 hearing, the judge did not find the testimony of my daughter- in- law credible, so the judge’s order of October 11, 2011 was REAFFIRMED.
“The father’s petition for return of the child was GRANTED. My daughter-in-law was ordered by the judge to return the child immediately to his father, who was in the process of departing the USA at the end of his period of study.
I returned home to Guyana un-hindered by the American authorities.
This account of the custody hearing is factual and faithfully reflects what took place in the court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Any attempt to distort the ruling of the court in this matter, to paint the judge’s orders otherwise, or to discredit my family will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.
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