A five-year custody battle over a five-year-old Taiwanese-American girl named Emily appears to have ended with the Taiwan High Court’s decision last month to give custody rights to the girl’s mother, Nadia Juan (阮玫芬).
The girl’s father, American Cary Sartin, however, still accuses Juan of kidnapping Emily from the US. She faces charges in the US for fleeing the country with her daughter more than four years ago during a custody fight. Interpol has Juan on its wanted list.
Legal experts, however, said it was unlikely that Sartin would be able to overturn the high court’s decision even if he tries to use diplomatic channels to press the kidnapping charges against Juan.
Juan, 41, a former journalist with the Chinese-language Central Daily News, met Sartin while she was studying in the US and she later became pregnant.
Juan said Sartin suddenly disappeared when she was five months pregnant and that after Emily was born, he said that there was no way that he could be sure if the child was his. However, Sartin won custody of Emily through the courts in New York State.
Juan returned to Taiwan with Emily after the New York Family Court ruled her to be unsuitable to take care of a child because of mental problems.
Sartin came to Taiwan in 2006, armed with a US court order to take Emily back to the US.
The Taipei District Court handed Emily over to Sartin but he was stopped from leaving the country at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
Immigration officials said because Emily had entered the country on a Republic of China (ROC) passport she had to leave on an ROC passport, since there was no entry record for her under the US passport Sartin had obtained for Emily at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei.
On May 10, 2006, the Taipei District Court ruled that Emily could not leave Taiwan and Sartin returned to the US.
The Taipei District Court ruled on July 13 last year that Juan had won custody rights over Emily because Sartin “did not take his parenting duties seriously enough.”
This decision was confirmed by the Taiwan High Court on Nov. 20.
Juan said that she was extremely grateful for the help she has received during the custody battle. She said Emily still has nightmares caused by the case. She said all she wants to do now is take Emily to Disneyland for a holiday.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER