Chris Savoie wins a $6 million judgment against Noriko, in Tennessee.

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.

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6 comments

  1. Eido Inoue · May 12, 2011

    Hi Hoofin, Only going to comment on the dual-citizenship and renunciation bits, which I know a bit about because I’ve done it, have a blog about it, and I’ve done the paperwork.

    While your simplified description of dual citizenship in Japan is correct in gist for the context of the article, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that, and there are cases where Japanese can legally be dual or multiple nationals, especially if you were born that way before 1985 or you got your additional citizenships involuntarily/automatically through marriage, etc. You may find this interesting:

    http://www.turning-japanese.info/2011/05/faq-can-you-not-renounce-your-original.html

    Regarding renouncing your citizenship as an American as a requirement for Japanese naturalization, there is no Japanese word “endeavor” in the specialized additional oath given to Americans and other nationalities that don’t permit temporary statelessness:

    http://www.turning-japanese.info/2011/04/oath-to-renounce.html

    • hoofin · May 12, 2011

      Eido, I appreciate your input.

  2. Pingback: Chris Savoie writes and asks that I explain one thing about Japanese dual-citizenship. | Hoofin to You!
  3. Laura · May 20, 2011

    Does anyone realize that if Japan HAD been a signatory to the Hague Convention that TN would not have had any jurisdiction to make any orders whatsoever regarding Chris Savoie’s children? Under the Hague convention the US would not have had jurisdiction of the children until they had lived in the US for a full two years.

    His children were Japanese citizens who grew up in Japan, spoke Japanese as their primary language and who had not been in the US long enough for the US to have any jurisdiction over matters regarding their custody.

    Therefore Japan is never going to recognize or enforce any orders coming out of the US, and even if they had been a signatory to the Hague Convention they would not be required to do so in this particular case.

    He wanted a divorce, he wanted to return to the US, he manipulated things to get his children here hoping that he could keep them here, and failed. He then tried to abduct them from Japan. In any other country’s view he is the bad guy, not his ex wife.

    • hoofin · May 20, 2011

      Laura, you say:

      Under the Hague convention the US would not have had jurisdiction of the children until they had lived in the US for a full two years.

      According to the Hague Convention wiki, here, it doesn’t say anything about two years. Would you provide a source for that?

  4. vfp15 · May 16, 2012

    Laura

    Chris Savoie is not the bad guy. He did move to the US to get divorced there, but that’s because if he had divorced his wife in Japan, he would have legally lost his kids. Japan has no shared custody. At all. The first parent to snatch the kids wins the kids. The other parent will never see the children again, period.

    Savoie was rich enough that he could have snatched the kids and gotten a divorce in Japan. And he would have had to keep the kids from their mother in order to keep her from snatching the kids back.

    By going to the US and getting a divorce there, he got custody and was still able to let Noriko see the children. He even trusted her and the system enough to allow her to return to Japan. It’s only after having returned to Japan that Noriko told him she wasn’t coming back.

    The real culprit here is Japanese Family Law. By making shared custody impossible, by not providing visitation rights, but not providing for child support payment (that’s the quid pro quo), Japan makes it impossible for the children of divorced parents to have relationship with both parents.

    Chris Savoie sought to avoid that. You’re right that he thought he was being clever. But he was also being nice by making sure his wife would have a relationship with her children. It’s Noriko who behaved badly, because Japanese society offers no other option.

    My own story:
    http://vincent.poirier.com/Articles/Personalmydivorceandlosin.html

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