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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hansen child support asked

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A court in Russia is demanding that a former Shelbyville resident pay $2,500 a month in child support for the care of the boy she sent back to his homeland.

Meanwhile, the family at the center of the controversy has a new lawyer.

Legal wrangling continues in the case of the boy returned to Moscow by adoptive mother Torry Hansen, with an official from that country now claiming that she is refusing to give up her parental rights and does not want to pay child support.

She sent the boy, Justin A. Hansen, back to Moscow last April without an adult escort, which triggered an international uproar over the adoption of Russian children.

Torry attached a note to Justin claiming the boy was violent, mentally unstable and that they were lied to by Russian orphanage workers about his behavior.

The Russian newspaper The Moscow Times reported Wednesday that the 8-year-old is now being prevented from being taken in by another family because Hansen refuses to give up her parental rights.

Russian children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov wrote Tuesday on Twitter that Hansen told a Tennessee court she put the boy on the plane because "he asked to see his (biological) mother and she let him go," the Times reported.

The Russian paper quoted Astakhov saying that Hansen's court testimony was "cynic slyness" that aimed to avoid making child support payments.

Astakhov also said he would send documents to the court in Tennessee "to support an attempt by U.S. prosecutors" to collect the support payments from Hansen and deprive her of her parental rights.

But while Astakhov did not specify to the Russian paper how much she is expected to pay, documents obtained by the T-G show that they are asking for Hansen "to pay alimony for the maintenance of a minor amount of 75,000 rub(les)." - a little over $2,500 a month in American dollars.

The one-time attorney for the Hansens, Trisha Henegar of Shelbyville, filed a motion to dismiss a petition by an adoption agency that wishes to be appointed as a temporary guardian and for child support payments on Dec. 28.

Henegar requested that the court dismiss the petition "or at the very least" the child support claims.

But Henegar also informed the T-G she is no longer representing the Hansens in the case, saying that attorney Jennifer Thomas of Nashville is now handling the matter.

Russians want support

A motion was filed last week by the World Association for Children and Parents (WACAP), the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) and adoptive parent Jennifer Terhune, requesting for more time to respond to the motion to dismiss that was filed at the end of 2010 by Henegar.

Terhune is a resident of Wilson County that WACAP is asking to be appointed the guardian of the boy since she has already adopted three children from China and Korea.

Attorneys representing the adoption agencies are currently engaged in a jury trial in Chattanooga and have requested until Jan. 28 to respond to the motion and set a date for oral arguments on pending matters.

Henegar argued in her dismissal motion that Tennessee does not have jurisdiction to order child support because it is not the boy's "home state," the termination of parental rights proceeding precludes the court from exercising exclusive jurisdiction, that the court should decline jurisdiction because it is not the appropriate forum and that even if the state did have jurisdiction, it could not award child support.

Last May, WACAP filed a petition requesting that Bedford County's Circuit Court appoint the agency as a temporary guardian for the boy. The matter was moved to juvenile court in August after an agreed order was signed by both parties.

But in October, WACAP, NCFA and Terhune filed a second amended petition that asked the court to determine child support due from the Hansens.

Henegar wrote that NCFA has alleged it had been in contact with Russian authorities and intended to provide evidence "regarding the amount necessary for Justin's care and maintenance in Russia." NCFA has also alleged that the Russians had appointed it as the "liaison" with the court. Henegar claims.

"In actuality, NCFA has repeatedly engaged in ex parte communications with the Judge of the Moscow City Court to persuade the Court to postpone its proceedings to terminate Respondent's (the Hansen's) parental rights due to the fact that Respondent will not have to pay child support in Tennessee once her rights are terminated and will not be held criminally liable," Henegar wrote.

On Dec. 13, 2010, the Municipality of Intra-municipal Formation in Moscow refined their claim, asking that Hansen pay for the support of the child.

Henegar pointed out that Tennessee state law defines the "home state" as where a child lived with a parent for at least six months, claiming that the boy lived with the Hansen's in Bedford County from Oct. 7, 2009, to April 6, 2010 -- less than six months.

She also states that the Moscow court has accepted jurisdiction over the proceeding since the boy has been in that country's jurisdiction for more than six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition to revoke the adoption and to seek child support.

Case history

The parental rights of Justin's biological mother was terminated on Aug. 1, 2008, by the Partizansk City Court of Primorsky Krai, according to Henegar's motion to dismiss. The boy was placed in an orphanage because none of his relatives were willing or able to take him in.

Torry Hansen was interested in adopting a Russian child and contacted WACAP, later traveling to Russia to meet the boy and review the available documentation regarding his health and background.

Hansen sent a letter to WACAP on July 23, 2009, indicating she wished to adopt Justin, entered into an agreement with WACAP, who filed a petition with the Russian authorities requesting that Hansen be permitted to adopt him.

A hearing was held on Sept. 18, 2009, in Russia, where Hansen testified and the adoption petition was granted that day. Hansen returned to Bedford County with the boy on Oct. 7, 2009, who became a citizen of this country on entry to America.

The adoption decree by the Russian court required that Hansen comply with post-placement reporting requirements, and Hansen participated in the visits and preparation of the reports.

However, Hansen disagreed with some of the information submitted in the reports, Henegar wrote, claiming that Lisa Mosley of WACAP conducted a home visit on Jan. 20, 2010, but did not make another one prior to preparing the post placement report, which was due on March 29, 2010.

Henegar claims that Justin's behavior had become violent by the time the report was submitted, and WACAP representatives "edited" the information provided by Hansen and never signed the report.

The Hansens later provided the T-G with copies of e-mails between adoption workers involved with the case that appear to indicate that reports about the placement of the child to Russian officials may have been "fudged."

Then, in early April 2010, the boy's adoptive grandmother, Nancy Hansen, drove Justin to Atlanta and stayed with him until they reached an airport in Virginia, but she left him in the care of flight attendants for the trip overseas.

On April 20, a petition over Justin's adoption was filed in Moscow City Court, alleging that Hansen had abandoned Justin by returning him. The boy was placed in an orphanage maintained by the Russian government and the court was asked to revoke the adoption and restore the boy's former Russian name.

Attorney Larry L. Crain, who represents the adoption agency, filed the petition to appoint a guardian. Crain stated last May that they went to court out of frustration that no one was investigating claims that the Hansens abandoned and endangered the child.

However, since the incident occurred last year, local authorities have said they have not been able to file any charges against the Hansens because there is no evidence that any crime was committed in Bedford County.