Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Custody case could end quickly

DISPUTE The custody battle over three-year-old Emily could be decided quickly in the interest of the girl and in the face of intense media scrutiny, legal experts said

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Nadia Juan, center, mother of three-year-old Emily, yesterday speaks with Children's Bureau Director Huang Pi-hsia, right. Juan brought some toys and things in the hope that Huang could ask social workers to give them to Emily when they visit her.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

There is no timetable for custody trials in Taiwan, but the court may speed up custody proceedings for a three-year-old girl named Emily because of media attention and other circumstances, legal experts said yesterday.

"In Emily's custody suit, the judges will send social workers to visit Emily's father and mother to see how well they can take care of a little child, and they will offer their opinions to the judges," Taipei District Court spokesman Liu Shou-sung (劉壽嵩) told the Taipei Times yesterday.

"The judges also would summon the girl's mother and father, listen to them make their case for taking care of their daughter, and the judges will then make a decision," Liu added.

He said he did not know how long the hearing would take.

Taipei lawyer Wang Tzu-wen (王子文) told the Taipei Times that the Taipei District Court may speed up the hearing, because Emily's future is better resolved early, and because the transnational suit has been making headlines.

The suit could be finished in a month, Wang added.

Meanwhile, Liou Hsing-yuan (劉興源), the lawyer for the girl's father, Cary Sartin, yesterday released a statement regarding the case.

The statement said that the New York Family Court had judged Nadia Juan (阮玫芬) not suitable to take care of a child because of mental problems.

Children's Bureau Director Huang Pi-hsia (黃碧霞) said at a press conference yesterday that Emily's father had agreed to allow social workers to visit him and Emily. Huang said that they were arranging a meeting.

Juan on Tuesday had filed a provisional disposition asking the court to award her temporary custody of Emily during the trial.

She argued that because Sartin is a US citizen, he may have to leave the country, as his visa would not allow him to stay in Taipei for long.

The Taipei District Court has not yet ruled on the application.

However, the court approved a provisional disposition on Tuesday that prevents Emily from leaving the country during the custody trial.

Liu said "the judges made their decision quickly because it was an emergency case."

"The suit would make no difference if Emily had already left Taiwan," Liu added.

Juan, the former New York correspondent for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-run newspaper Central Daily News.

Sartin, a 55-year-old New Yorker, had won custody of Emily in the US, and attempted to leave Taiwan with his daughter last week, but was stopped as he did not have her Taiwanese passport when passing the immigration point.

(Editor's note: There have been discrepancies in the spelling of the American father's first name, with government officials and local media offering a variety of spellings. As the signature on the statement issued by the father's lawyer yesterday is signed "Cary Sartin," the Taipei Times is henceforth using this spelling.)

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