The Abductor who Cried Wolf

Dr. Maurício Ejchel

I am currently handling a particularly sensitive and complex case involving international child abduction, where a mother has unlawfully taken her son from California, USA, and fled to Ceará, Brazil. This case not only involves the illegal removal of a child across international borders but also includes allegations of domestic violence made by the mother.

The mother’s criminal claim, based on the local “Maria da Penha” legislation began shortly after she arrived in Brazil, where she alleged that her husband was abusive, had hacked her phone, and was stalking her. Notably, the complaint was filed anonymously through her attorney, which is a practice rarely used in Brazil due to the personal nature of domestic violence complaints.

Following the abduction, which left the father devastated, we initiated a legal proceeding under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, filing a claim in a Federal Court in the State for the child’s return.

In her defense, the mother promptly claimed to be a victim of domestic violence, asserting that she had already filed for a criminal protective measure against the husband. 

Observing that she had not provided any documentation to support her claims, and deeply concerned about the potential severity of her allegations, the Federal judge requested that the mother supplement her filings with the actual protective measures issued in her favor.

When the mother failed to comply with the court’s request, the judge issued a direct order to the criminal court for detailed information regarding her allegations. The findings were telling that while the mother indeed applied for a protective order, it was ultimately denied due to her failure to provide convincing evidence to support her allegations of abuse.

The criminal court even requested an expert analysis of her phone to verify her claims of being hacked—a request she sidestepped by claiming that her phone was lost.

She presented copies of messages exchanged between the couple. However, upon examining these emails, it became clear that the scenario depicted was quite contrary to the claims made by the mother. 

In fact, the communications indicated that she was attempting to provoke a negative response from her husband, who consistently remained composed and refrained from any provocations. Upon recognizing this manipulation, the criminal judge charged her with filing a false crime report.


Even with all this indication of manipulation of the system, I still have a long road ahead. It is interesting to note how, in this situation, there is a significant risk of role reversal, where the father, who has been wronged in the exact manner prescribed by the 1980 Hague Convention, is at risk of being labeled as a heinous offender of family violence.

This case shows the misuse of legal measures intended to protect victims of domestic violence, employed specifically to prevent the return of an abducted child. 

By creating false allegations, the mother not only attempted to block the child’s return but also compromised the integrity of legitimate domestic violence claims, undermining trust in the law and complicating international abduction cases.

This stresses the importance of not prematurely discrediting any party, regardless of gender or social condition, before thorough investigation, ensuring that respect and balance are maintained for all individuals involved without prejudice.


*This article expresses my point of view on this sensitive topic and should not be taken as an endorsement of the heinous crime of domestic violence. Instead, it is intended as a doctrinal discussion that seeks to also consider the protection of the rights of the left-behind parents in cases of child abduction.

Dr. Mauricio Ejchel is a highly qualified international lawyer based in São Paulo, Brazil. He graduated from the Law School of the Catholic University of São Paulo and holds a postgraduate degree in International Relations. In 1995, Dr. Ejchel was admitted to the Brazilian Bar Association and went on to establish MF Ejchel International Advocacy in 1996.

As a well-known commentator on legal matters, Dr. Ejchel is an expert in family law, international divorce, and Hague child abduction cases. He has appeared on several Brazilian TV networks and is a columnist for Radio Justice, affiliated with the Brazilian Supreme Court. Dr. Ejchel’s in-depth knowledge of international legal affairs has earned him a reputation as a respected authority in the field.

Dr. Ejchel is also a prolific writer, having authored numerous legal articles in both Portuguese and English. His steadfast dedication to safeguarding the interests of his clients has earned him a reputation as an accomplished and proficient barrister in Brazil.

With over 27 years of legal experience, Dr. Ejchel provides strategic counseling, directs mediation, and manages complex cases. He has contributed to legal cases in several countries and provided expert opinions in foreign courts. Dr. Ejchel’s dedication to protecting the interests of his clients is at the core of his legal practice. He believes that realization is based on a deep understanding of the law, navigating the Judiciary, awareness of his client’s needs, and a dedication to providing legal services.