Five years ago, my ten-year-old son, Malik, and I were plunged into a nightmare. His father and I had divorced in Switzerland, and I was granted full parental custody. Just as Malik and I were planning to return home to the U.S., the unthinkable happened: A judge confiscated his passport and barred him from leaving Switzerland, where he has been forced to remain ever since.
In 2012 a Swiss court upheld my costodial rights, but a series of prolonged court appeals has kept Malik from the one thing he desires: a life with me and his younger sister in the U.S.
Since the age of seven, Malik has suffered from depression due to our separation and has periodically been seen by a pediatric psychiatrist. Malik’s emotional scars came to a head this summer, after we were granted a few precious weeks together.
When it was time for him to leave, Malik broke down in tears and refused to board the plane back to Switzerland with his father. Worried that my emotionally distraught son was being forced against his will, airport staff called the police. “I miss being with my mom here in Los Angeles,” he told them in the police report. “I just don’t want to go back to Switzerland.” Despite his protests, Malik was flown overseas the next day.
Now, our family’s fate is in the hands of an appeals judge in Lugano. Early on, two court-ordered psychological reviews determined that it was in Malik’s best interest to live with his mother. Given this, and the fact that the Swiss constitution allows the custodial parent to determine the place of residence, I do not understand why we have had to endure an unnecessarily prolonged appeal that has subjected my son to excessive emotional upheaval.
I have done everything within my power to protect my son’s well-being. I have sought help from my congressperson and a local international custody lawyer, but this is not enough. I am desperate. I need your help to tell the Swiss government to uphold the lower-court ruling which granted me full legal custody and to call for the return of Malik to his mother immediately.