Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beth Alexander fights an insensitive Austrian justice system to regain her twin boys

Vienna Review   by Nina Cranen and Franziska Zoidl    

 Law without Justice

As in most countries in the West, Austrian family law is meant to serve the best interests of the children. But what if Justitia errs? [....]

Family law has a long tradition in Europe, either as Catholic countries or as Protestant.” However, that should not have mattered here, as both parents are observant Jews, a tradition in which mothers are held in very high regard. “Respect for motherhood is deeply rooted in Jewish culture,” confirmed the Viennese rabbi. Jewish identity itself is, in fact, matrilineal, i.e., being passed on through the mother. A child born of a Jewish father and Christian mother, for example, is not considered a Jew.

However, for Judge emeritus Lilian Hofmeister, Alexander’s case comes as no surprise in the Austrian legal system: “This is particularly true in custody wars over sons,” Judge Hofmeister said. “There seems to be a new ‘rule of thumb’, which states: ‘Sons belong to their fathers’,” she said. “In the course of my pro bono work, I have come across cases that I wouldn’t have thought possible from my understanding of the law,” she added. While she was not familiar with all the details of this case, she said that especially with parents raising their children religiously, courts often prefer the fathers to the mothers. “I often get the impression that fathers use women as baby machines,” Dr. Hofmeister said, “As soon as the baby is born, they want to get rid of the mother(…), with foreigners, it is even easier.” As a social critic and feminist, she sees the situation in Austria as “a ‘war against women as mothers’, something not yet being examined by the courts.”

As the twins were born in Austria, Alexander’s case is governed by Austrian law: After a 1.5-year custody battle, Judge Susanne Göttlicher granted full and immediate custody to her husband, basing her decision on one psychological report. In the report, a court-appointed psychologist deemed her unfit to parenting: “The mother has limited parenting abilities (…) she inadequately interacts and bonds with her children.” For Alexander, the report has been fabricated – a procedure that has just caused a scandal in Salzburg, where a courtappointed psychologist is believed to have written 13 reports for courts predominantly in custody wars, using pre-fabricated textual elements and having manipulated the psychological tests.

To prove the report wrong, Alexander had herself re-assessed privately, leading to a second court-commissioned evaluation, by Dr. Werner Leixnering. Both reports contradicted the initial report and stated that she was perfectly sane and a good mother. To date, Judge Göttlicher has declined to accept these reports in evidence. Claiming bias, Alexander filed for a replacement of the judge in January, which has put the case on hold for nearly six months. [...]

However, just before press time, a decision was handed denying Alexander’s request for a change of venue, stating that “a transfer of jurisdiction to the Bezirksgericht Josefstadt is not in the interest of the children at the moment.” But with every day that passes, the legal argument grows that the children are now “used to their father”, as the psychiatrist Wörgötter knows from her 15-year experience as a court-appointed expert. [...]


  1. According to halocho the boys go to the father from age 6. What am I missing? So a sight that lauds itself with the name "Daas Torah" purporting to follow haocho thinks the mother should get the boys which at face value seems in defiance of halocho.

    1. Stan do you always have to act like an idiot? If you took the time to get your facts straight rather than focusing primarily on trashing others you would have read that the twins are now 4 years old. So even you acknowledge that normal procedure would be to give custody to the mother. It is ironic that your next comment calls for first knowing the pertinent facts - something you obviously haven't done - before you wrongly criticized me.


    2. From the article:

      Losing custody has meant that Alexander’s twin boys only see their mother each Tuesday and every second Sunday, visits that in practice have often been cancelled by the father. Each time, she has to pay €44 for required supervision. In between the twins, who turned 4 in May, have been cared for by two Filipino nannies, neither of whom speaks German and only one some broken English, according to Dr. Willy Weisz, who accompanied Alexander on one visit. Those who often suffer most in custody battles are the children. “Being snatched from their mother, in the presence of police, even if the father is the best one in the world, is a very traumatising experience,” Wörgötter explained. The most important attachment figure for children at such a young age is the mother, she said, and if children lose their mother, a proper replacement has to be found – “otherwise the successful development of children can be heavily disturbed.”

  2. So we don't quite know who violated halocho here and went to the goyim and their arko'oys and we are involving ourselves. Let us first know the pertinent facts.

  3. "Losing custody has meant that Alexander’s twin boys only see their mother each Tuesday and every second Sunday"

    Gee, when its the father who can only see the children twice -- or less -- per week, you don't hear too many complaints.

    The father has as much right as anyone to have primary custody.

    Congratulations to the father.

  4. "All of them, it seems, have forgotten about the two 4-year-old boys."

    I fear JJ may have fallen into that category.


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