New book looks at the plight of mothers battling Danish custody laws
A book about Danish custody laws made its English-language debut today.
In the published book, ‘The biggest power pig wins – on custody law and how to protect yourself from the game’, author Libbie Bouffon (a pseudonym) outlines advice she hopes will help non-Danes avoid what she calls “the Danish custody trap”.
“There are many circumstances surrounding the Danish custody law that one would not expect in a democratic society with rule of law,” said Bouffon in a statement.
“Many foreigners who come here do not imagine that if they have children in Denmark, or if they bring children into the country, they may not be able to leave again. At least not with the children.”
The Oliver case
Marion Weilharter, the mother involved in Denmark’s most high-profile custody case, said that Bouffon’s book is an important piece in the puzzle that is Danish custody law.
“I fully agree with the author´s observations,” said Weilharter. “It is of utmost importance to inform as many people as possible about the risks and consequences of exposing themselves to a system that by no means ensures the best interest of the child – a system that is proven to be biased against mothers and foreigners.”
Weilharter took Oliver, her son with a Danish man, to Austria in July 2010. She said that she had been living as a single parent in Denmark for three years before leaving for her home country, and that under Austrian law, she was recognised as Oliver's sole custodial parent.
Nevertheless, the Danish courts had ruled in favour of the boy’s father, Thomas Nørgaard Sørensen, who then travelled to Austria, grabbed Oliver out of Weilharter’s car as she dropped him off at kindergarten and took him back to Denmark.
Weilharter has always maintained that Sørensen carefully planned Oliver's abduction and that a co-conspirator actually held her down while Sørensen grabbed her son.
Sørensen – who has since been found guilty by an Austrian criminal court of unlawful imprisonment, child abduction and aggravated assault and received a one-year suspended prison sentence – has always denied that Weilharter was restrained in any way.
“She says that to make things sound more dramatic than they were,” he wrote in an email to the Copenhagen Post.
“Grotesque” laws victimise mothers
Bouffon's book tells a story that describes a general pattern. She has also gathered the stories of 30 women who have endured similar treatment, which are published weekly on her Facebook page. In several cases, a mother or a child have not been protected from violence or abuse, and when the mother has tried to go back to her home country, the children have been taken away from her.
“Mothers who try to protect their children in Denmark are labelled as ‘harassing’ and put in jail,” said Bouffon.
Bouffon called Danish custody laws “grotesque” and said she is in contact with more than 200 mothers who live as “psychological hostages”.
Weilharter said that although she is “very grateful to have such a fantastic son”, she would have never got involved with a Dane had she known she would be used as an “incubator” and then thrown out of her son’s life by the Danish authorities.
“This book is essential reading for anyone considering a life in Denmark," Weilharter said. "I wish I had this very important information before moving to Denmark.”
No help from the media
“I believe in the right of the individual to make informed choices,” said Bouffon. “No Danish media outlets report on this shadowy side of the law, so people are trapped in circumstances you cannot imagine.”
Weilharter agreed that knowledge is power for those fighting for their children..
“Unfortunately I did not have the information that would have enabled me to protect my child. After having cared for Oliver for over five years until his kidnapping, it breaks my heart that his human rights have been infringed by both his violent Danish kidnapper and the Danish authorities.”