Last week I attended an open hearing at Stamford Family Court in Connecticut in the US in relation to a child abduction case involving TV Presenter Melissa Porter and her ex partner Peter Rinfret. The hearing was in open court.

As highlighted here on previous occasions and as has been widely reported in the media (by the mother), the case involves the removal of Pierce Rinfret, a US Citizen and citizen of the State of Connecticut, by his mother Melissa Porter to the UK without the consent of the father, Peter Rinfret.

Pierce was resident with his mother and father in Connecticut for the best part of a year before his removal. Mother then claimed to be resident in Stockport, Manchester and the matter was dealt with in the UK courts with the father’s Hague application being dismissed. Instead of the child being returned to the US, the father was instead given overnight staying contact (the contact order has been broken repeatedly by the mother and overnight staying contact has never materialised) and – astonishingly – a £31,000 bill for her costs.

What followed in the UK courts was a brutal, discriminatory and inhumane treatment of a father, now reduced to a transatlantic flying cashpoint. Needless to say, there have been no repercussions for the mother whatsoever and the child remains with her in the UK.

Whilst the UK courts operate under a level of secrecy even the Chinese would flinch at, in the US no such restrictions exist. In court last week, the mother made a motion to dismiss the fathers application for the State of Connecticut to accept jurisdiction over the UK courts. A judgement was delayed until early 2013, however the court accepted that Connecticut was Pierce Rinfret’s ‘home state’. i.e. He was NOT resident in the UK as the mother claimed in the UK courts.

In our view, this is yet another case where a mother has been allowed to exclude the father from the life of their child with impunity, thereby giving a licence to other mothers to do the same. Until there are consequences to breaking the law and engaging in blatant child abduction, the UK government and courts continue to sanction state sponsored child trafficking.

One final thought, if the tables had been turned, the father would be in jail.

Matt O’Connor 25/10/12

For more information about the case – as publicised by the mother, Melissa Porter, see here:

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