Judge: Mom can visit girls with supervision
El Montañés editor
The mother of the two local children involved in an international custody battle might see her daughters as soon as Tuesday if her attorney can arrange for a supervised visit in Snowmass, where they are staying with their father.
The children, Victoria and Sophia Burns, returned to the United States last week after more than four years in Argentina, where their mother had taken them without agreement of Dennis Burns, who had primary custody. Burns waged a legal battle for years to bring the girls back. Victoria is now 8; Sophia is 6.
Both parents appeared Monday in Garfield County District Court in Glenwood Springs before Judge Denise Lynch, who presided in the 2010 custody case and at the time named Dennis Burns the girls’ primary residential parent. Lynch declined Monday to consider who will have custody of the children in the future, but did agree to allow the mother, Ana Alianelli, visits with a chaperone.
Lynch also said she wanted the girls to talk to their mother daily on the phone.
“This isn’t healthy for the children,” she said of strict separation.
However, “I’m not going to change my orders from 2010 now,” Lynch said.
“I want Mrs. Burns (Alianelli) to have contact with the children,” she said. “I’m not going to change the location of the kids now, nor say who will be the primary residential parent. I don’t have motions in front of me.”
Jonathan Shaw, Dennis Burns’ attorney, asked Lynch “to grant visits that are supervised based on past history. We want the mother to participate in the life of the children, but we want sufficient protection.”
The children arrived Thursday in Houston from Buenos Aires with both parents after the Argentinean Supreme Court ordered Alianelli to surrender the children.
In the days since, Alianelli said, she has been concerned about her daughters’ welfare after she was separated from them when they arrived at the Houston airport.
Several Argentine media outlets reported the children had been abducted by their father upon arrival to the United States. However, Burns, who stayed for a few days in Houston at a friend’s house, said Customs officials at the airport told him to take the children when he said he had to go to a hospital to check injuries he sustained after Alianelli’s brother attacked him at the airport.
Burns also asked Lynch for authorization to go to California this week with his daughters to attend a rehabilitation program recommended by two experts. Lynch said she was going to look into the program before making a decision but expressed concerns about the children traveling again to a different state.
“Can the parents participate in the program?” the judge asked.
Alianelli’s attorney Georgina Melby said an agreement wasn’t being followed that had been reached between Alianelli and Burns in Argentina before the judge who finally agreed to return the children to the United States.
“He (Burns) said he was going to provide her with a condo where she could live with the kids,” said Georgina Melby. Alianelli has been staying with a friend since she arrived in the valley.
Burns’ attorney told the judge a condo in Snowmass Village is at Alianelli’s disposal until May 17.
“He (Burns) did it under duress,” Shaw told the judge about the agreement.
Melby told the judge that Alianelli is concerned Burns will not follow up the agreement reached in Argentina. The agreement hasn’t been ratified by a judge in the United States yet.
Lynch said she was concerned about the matter as well.
“A judge in Argentina did this order under the pretense the agreement was entered,” Lynch said.
Shaw guaranteed Lynch Burns had always complied with court orders. He also told Judge Lynch he has received several dead threats and he blamed a media campaign against him launched in Argentina.
“This court will have to deal with difficult circumstances now,” Lynch said. A hearing to discuss parenting time was set for Wednesday.
After a week of emotionally charged events and saturation coverage in the Argentine media, Monday’s hearing was peaceful, with the presence only of the parents with their attorneys, two of Alianelli’s friends, the Argentine consul and one reporter.
After a contentious divorce case, Alianelli, took the children to Argentina with a short-term permit that allowed the children to stay abroad for only a few weeks. When the permit expired, and Lynch ordered Alianelli to return. She ignored the judge’s orders.
Alianelli has complained to the judge and Argentine media that she left because Burns beat her up and her kids would have a much better life in Argentina after she and Burns lost their home to foreclosure and they had to file bankruptcy during the 2009 financial crisis. Burns has denied Alianelli’s allegations.
Colorado criminal records show Burns was arrested in August 2009 in a domestic dispute but the case was dismissed. Soon after, in October 2009, Burns was arrested for violating a restraining order when he tried to pick up personal belongings from the house he had shared with Alianelli in Aspen Glen. According to him, Alianelli said he could pick up his things, but then called police.
During the 2009 custody case, Lynch saw this incidents as isolated and named Burns the primary residential parent after receiving a detailed report of a court-appointed psychologist who had spent time with both parents and the girls.
FROM THE AIRPORT
Burns, with daughters, is attacked in the Buenos Aires airport, from Argentine TV:
[iframe width=”640” height=”360” src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/B6bseP71lwQ?rel=0” frameborder=”0” allowfullscreen> /]
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