Jeff Doyle awaits the fate of his efforts to have his 8 year old daughter, Soffi, returned to Canada from Mexico, despite having been awarded custody in Canadian Court.

The Campbell River Mirror recently reported that a Mexican Appeal Court’s decision on the case is imminent (Dec 9, 2014).  The most recent delay appears related to a  court ordered evaluation of Soffi, likely similar to a Views of the Child Report, the results of  which was expected December 13, 2014.

Soffi was born in Campbell River, to parents Jeff Doyle (Canadian) and Christina Guzman Islas (Mexican) in 2006.  They lived in both Mexico and Canada as a family.  In the fall of 2013, Christina took Soffi to Mexico for a 3-week vacation.  They never returned.

Mr. Doyle subsequently obtained a declaration of guardianship for his daughter, in B.C. Supreme Court.  He even obtained full custody of Soffi in a Mexican Court, on October 7, 2014.  However, the judge allowed Ms. Islas 10 days to file an appeal of the decision.  In the interim period she allegedly prevented Mr. Doyle from seeing his daughter.  This was followed by further court delays.

Abduction charges were never filed against Soffi’s mother in Canada.  Jeff Doyle explained:

“I specified she could be gone three weeks, but Crown says it is my fault because I gave her permission to leave.  They say the intent to abduct her was formed in Mexico and not here so this is Mexico’s problem and not Canada’s problem”  (Courier-Islander August 8, 2014).

Crown Spokesperson Neil MacKenzie further clarified that there was no custody order in place at the time that Soffi was taken to Mexico (Times Colonist, August 13, 2014).

Despite the delays, and costs associated with the Mexico court actions, Mr. Doyle has made only positive statements about the Mexican justice system.  The Hague Convention, which Canada and Mexico are both party to, is designed to deal with cases of parental abduction such as this.

What is The Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention  is an international treaty developed by a group of countries, developed in an effort to intervene in cases of international child abduction.  Most of these cases involve parental child abduction.  The Convention’s two main objectives are to:

1.  Ensure that children who are wrongfully removed  from their home country are returned promptly and,

2.  Enable parents to contact, or access, their children across international borders.

The Convention only applies to children under the age of 16, when both countries are parties to the convention.  To apply for a child’s return, a person must have had and exercised “rights of custody” to the child before the child was removed from their home country.  The process involves an application to the court.

Jayne Embree, M.A.

For a list of countries which are party to the Hague Convention:  www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/fr_hague

For a Canadian Government Guidebook on International Child Abduction: