From the Tennessean.
The short of the Savoie story is this: Chris Savoie was in an international marriage. Mrs. Savoie was the former Noriko Esaki, from Kyushu.
There was a divorce, which, as a single guy, I don’t know much about the topic. But one thing I do, is that they are customarily unpleasant, bitter matters.
For some reason, before the divorce the Savoies relocated to Tennessee, in America. Chris Savoie sought the divorce there. (Chris’ Twitter feed says Noriko knew about the divorce before she relocated to Tennessee.) Tennessee allows for joint custody, and this is what Chris thought he got. But what he got was joint custody as long as Noriko Savoie stuck around with the kids.
And what she did, instead, was high-tail it back to Japan with the kids.
Chris Savoie has been fighting to see his kids since then. He joins a long list of Dads whose children disappear into Japan, never to be heard from for the longest time, if ever. As readers may know, Japan has yet to ratify the Hague treaty concerning custody in divorce proceedings. (Just an aside: they have ratified Article 10(a) (certified mail service) of the Hague treaty on international service of process, but only as long as the Japan party’s rights were respected. So I wonder how Chris served Noriko with the $6 million action.)
The basis for the multi-million award is the time lost by Chris Savoie in not being able to see his kids. But I bet you that the Tennessee court system also feels that it has egg on its face, because Noriko Savoie basically thumbed her nose at it.
I know that Chris has taken some controversial actions in this, before the recent development. As you may know, he was on ice in Kyushu for a few weeks when he sought to re-abduct (un-abduct) his kids back to America, and got caught. The Fukuoka American consulate wouldn’t get their hands dirty at all in that incident, until the Keisatsu had Chris in the pokey. One version of the story is that Chris utilized “muscle” (a couple of guys) to subdue Noriko while he grabbed the kids. That has gotten one debate going.
The other thing that came out is that Chris had obtained Japanese citizenship along the way. But it’s the kind of dual-citizenship where he is supposedly required by the Japanese government to “endeavor” to turn in his U.S. passport, a la Debito Arudou. You can be a dual-citizen American as long as you intend to follow American law and honor our system of government. But, according to Japan, you can’t have two valid passports–you can’t be a dual. So I wonder what is going to happen with that.
Even though Tennessee left the Union for four years, it is today very much a part of the United States, and so its court system ought to be respected. So in that regard, I still feel that Noriko Savoie is wrong. Chris has one or two gray areas–and I’m not talking about on his scalp–but I think he’s got the moral side of the dispute, and he’s fighting like heck. He even helped the group of abandoned Dads to get some airtime and face time with Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey. They are not about to give up, which spells bad news for Noriko and a couple other women who did the same kind of thing against their exes.
It would have been one thing if Tennessee had denied Noriko Savoie any custody. But the court ruled joint, which is the package you get nowadays. That meant Noriko had to share her kids with Chris.