Gabriel Isabel Makielski
Gabriel Isabel Makielski campaign leader

Story of a Dominican Parental Child Abduction

In January 2011 two children, Gabriel Leonardo Makielski Rivera and Isabel Marie Makielski Rivera, where illegally taken to the Dominican Republic by their mother, Maria Rivera-Estevez. An existing court order is in place detailing custody, visitation, travel, and the U.S. as habitual residence for the children. The mother removed the children from Virginia and took them to the Dominican Republic without the father Robert Makielski's authorization as required by the current custody order.
In February 2011, Mr. Makielski filed a Hague application (The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, or Hague Abduction Convention) with US State Department in which he accrued considerable expenses to have all documents translated to Spanish. Although there was a pending divorce on the Culpeper circuit court docket, Maria Rivera had filed for divorce and custody in the Dominican Republic. In violation of Hague article 16 the Divorce was heard without Mr. Makielski's knowledge. He had to retain counsel in the Dominican Republic to have the Dominican divorce dismissed. For the Hague application, the first hearing took place in May 2011 where the judge ruled to allow the mother time to gather additional evidence. Contradictory to the Hague treaty, the Dominican Judge, William Encarnación Mejia, ordered the father's physical presence in the D.R. court. Due to threats posted by parties related to Ms. Rivera, the father's availability via online video conference, and his safety and security could not be guaranteed; he did not travel to the country. The judge refused to allow him to appear by video conference. Additionally, a representative from the US embassy was not permitted to attend the hearings. Two further hearings took place in June where the daughter was forced to testify. The Dominican judge did not allow the parties or their attorneys to be present during the testimony of the daughter; only the Judge and the 2 Dominican psychologists were present. In July the hearings continued. The father provided documentation (translated and apostilled) showing he had no pending charges, no criminal record and no sex offender record existed. On August 4, 2011, Consejo Nacional Para la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CONANI the Dominican Central Authority) and father's Attorney presented closing arguments requesting the return of the children. On October 4, 2011, the Dominican court released its decision to deny the return of the children based on Article 13 of the Hague treaty (that there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation). An Appeal was filed and heard on December 14, 2011 and July 17, 2012. On July 25, 2012 the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's ruling.Meanwhile in Culpeper Virginia, Mr. Makielski attempted to file for amended custody for his children. Additionally, the Guardian ad Litem filed for Child in need of Services (CHINS) petition in the Juvenile Court. The Juvenile Court ruled that the children should be returned and that they were in need of services (CHINS). In February 2012 Judge Berry stepped down from the bench, leaving Culpeper Circuit without a sitting Judge. There are still pending motions that await a ruling before the custody can heard. Mr. Makielski any contact with his children. He has not seen or heard from his children since January 18, 2011.
How you can help:
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