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In China, calls for end to aggressive child custody tactics | Reuters BEIJING Dai?Xiaolei?last saw her son in 2014 when he was 17 months old and living with her Chinese in-laws outside the capital Beijing. Her marriage was crumbling and as relations with her husband's family worsened, they blocked her from entering the house and taking him back to her home in Beijing, she said. The last time I saw my son was at the end of this alley. It's almost like a fortress, Dai, 37, said outside the ho
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  In China, calls for end to aggressive child custody tactics |Reuters BEIJING Dai?Xiaolei?last saw her son in 2014 when he was 17 months old and living with herChinese in-laws outside the capital Beijing.Her marriage was crumbling and as relations with her husband's family worsened, they blocked herfrom entering the house and taking him back to her home in Beijing, she said. The last time I saw my son was at the end of this alley. It's almost like a fortress, Dai, 37, saidoutside the home of her former in-laws in Baoding, 156 km from Beijing.Dai said the family has prevented her in all subsequent attempts to see her son. Reuters was unableto independently verify her account.Her husband, Liu?Jie, filed for divorce, arguing that their marriage had fallen apart due to conflictsin character, ideas and living habits, according to the court ruling seen by Reuters.Dai pushed for custody, but in April a judge dissolved the marriage and ruled that it was best for theboy's healthy physical and mental growth to be raised by his father, the court ruling said.Liu?Jie, a movie stunt coordinator, and his family declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. As China's divorce rates rise, so too have calls?bylawyers?for?an application of a new domestic violencelaw?that would clamp down on aggressive tactics used bysome parents to take and retain possession of children togain the upper hand in custody battles.Lawyers say judges tend to?favour?the parent who hasphysical possession of the child, creating an incentive for afather or mother to take their child to gain an advantage incourt.Dai appealed the April ruling to get custody of her son and lost. In its rejection of the appeal issuedon Nov. 30, the court said the child's living environment was relatively stable and any change to thiswould not be beneficial to his upbringing.There are currently no laws against one parent taking sole possession of a child against the wishesof the other parent, lawyers say, reflecting a traditional view that conflicts between family membersare considered private matters.The Supreme People's Court, China' highest court, declined to comment on specific cases whencontacted by Reuters, but it said maximising benefit to the child is the basic principle by whichcustody decisions are made.  JOINT CUSTODY RARE  China's divorce rate since 2002 has more than tripled to 2.8 per 1,000 people last year, according tothe Ministry of Civil Affairs. This is higher than the most recent official estimates for the EuropeanUnion at 2.1 divorces per 1,000 people in 2011 and catching up to the United States at 3.2 in 2014as increasingly individualistic aspirations compete with traditional notions of marriage.While official data is not publicly available,?Yan Jun, a judge in Beijing's?Haidian court,?estimatesthat children are taken from spouses in 60 percent of cases where both parents are seeking custody. The data tells us that divorce cases where husbands and wives snatch children from each other areby no means in the minority, Yan wrote in an article posted on the court's website in March.Under Chinese law, parents are rarely granted joint legal custody, as is the case in some countrieswhere both parents share the responsibility read this post of raising the child after a divorce.Instead judges give one parent direct custody , often preferring to maintain the status quo livingarrangement for a child between two- and ten-years-old, some?lawyers say. A lawyer at a Beijing family law firm, who declined to be identified, said child snatching often takesplace before divorce proceedings commence, by which point the parent can argue the child has astable living environment with them.EMOTIONAL DAMAGELi Ying, a Beijing-based lawyer and advocate for parental rights, said aggressive snatching tacticsshould be prosecuted under China's new don't miss this link  domestic violence law enacted inMarch.Under these laws, beatings, frequent verbal abuse, and threatening behaviour are considered formsof domestic violence. Some family law lawyers argue that preventing a child from seeing theirparent?is restricting the child's physical liberty, while preventing a parent from seeing her childcould be considered a form of psychological abuse.Even when judges rule in their?favour,?some?mothers complain about a lack of enforcement andsometimes take matters into their own hands.One?mother, who did not want to be named because her dealings the court are ongoing,?said shehired a private detective who found her son living under a fake name with an aunthttps://www.evernote.com/shard/s632/sh/8c0757ee-9a42-419b-b-99-839a60df69b6/2d0b0522e5337a4dd886baa41e3a1f55 of her ex-husband in a northern city inChina. The court had awarded her custody but when she complained months later that the order hadnot been enforced, a court official was blunt. She told me 'don't just depend on the courts. Are you working hard enough yourself or are you justdepending on us to get your child back? Reuters was unable to independently verify her account.(Editing by Darren Schuettler and Sam Holmes)http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-china-custody-idUKKBN14I07Q
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