A group gathered for a car meet and rally on Sunday at Quaker Steak and Lube at The Highlands.
About a dozen people gathered to raise awareness of “International Parental Kidnapping,” in which about 1,000 cases are reported each year in the United States.
Barbara Hise is the mother of Zander, 9, who has a father that lives in Malta. By custody agreement, Hise said she is required to send Zander for a minimum of two months each year to Malta to spend time with his father.
She said she handed Zander over on November 28, 2016 so he could spend Christmas with his dad. The agreement stated Zander was supposed to return on February 1st, but a few days before the father said he would not be bringing him back.
Hise said she heard from Zander’s father again, saying he would bring him back March 3, and he even showed her plane tickets. On February 18, Hise said she got an e-mail saying that the father now had custody of Zander. Hise tells 7News his father started custody proceedings without her knowledge.
Hise said she has a lawyer who is doing what she can to help, but cases of International Parental Kidnapping have to go through the State Department, and often take months, if not years to solve. She said there is no guarantee she will regain custody of her son.
“I haven’t got to see my son, and this is really hard, not just for me, for my husband, for our boys. I mean, it’s very hard and I want people to be aware how difficult this is emotionally and financially, and we need the community to rally together to back these parents,” Hise said.
Hise said Zander has special needs and what the father did is a federal crime. She said often the parents in the United States are the ones taking on the brunt of a ‘financial mess’ to regain custody. A Go Fund Me page has been started to help Hise.
To read more about International Parental Kidnapping, click here.