American man fights for custody of daughter after Taiwanese spouse ‘abducts’ her for 17 months | Taiwan Information
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A US citizen left his job and flew to Taiwan to seek custody of his daughter after his Taiwanese wife allegedly “kidnapped” her twice and refused to allow him to have the child seen a half in over a year.
Ariel Azoulay, 38, was born in Ashkelon Israel, but his family moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina when he was a year and a half. At the age of 16 his family immigrated to the United States, where he has lived since, and became a naturalized citizen in 2010 at the age of 27.
After Azoulay recently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area as a senior software engineer, he met his future spouse, last name Hsu, on a dating app. Before meeting Azoulay, 32-year-old Hsu lived in the United States for over five years and studied at the Academy of Art Institute in San Francisco, California.
Their relationship developed pretty quickly, and in October 2014 the couple started living together in the California city of San Mateo. On September 12, 2015, Azoulay proposed to marry Hsu.
The couple attended a civil ceremony in San Francisco on February 22, 2016. A little over two years later, their daughter was born on May 15, 2018, and the child is now two and a half years old.
Hsu told Azoulay that her daughter could not obtain Taiwanese citizenship if she was not born in the county, and he agreed with her decision to have her baby in Taiwan. In return, Hsu agreed that she and her child would fly to Florida three months after the delivery, where Azoulay already had career prospects.
The couple traveled to Taiwan in February 2018, three months before the delivery date. While in Taiwan, Hsu told Azoulay that her father was “in the worst financial crisis of his life” and that he urgently needed cash. During half a year in Taiwan, Azoulay Hsu’s father loaned over US $ 50,000, but claims the loan was never repaid.
As part of his preparations for his return to the USA, Azoulay found a position in Florida as a consultant at ThoughtWorks, Inc., which assigned him to clients such as McKinsey & Co and Spotify. He says the couple also found a “lovely home” in Boca Raton, Florida, and finally returned to the US in October 2018 after Hsu fully recovered from childbirth and their daughter was of legal age to get on a plane climb.
First alleged kidnapping
However, Azoulay claims that just five days after Hsu arrived at her new home in Florida on November 5, 2018, she “kidnapped” her daughter and brought her to Los Angeles. He said her explanation for leaving suddenly was that she “doesn’t like Florida”.
After weeks of unsuccessful attempts to persuade Hsu to return, Azoulay had to take time off and travel to Los Angeles to see his wife and daughter. However, Azoulay claims that Hsu has already worked out a plan for her father to travel to the US to impersonate the baby’s father and “kidnap” the child to Taiwan.
Since their daughter holds both US and Taiwanese passports, Azoulay claims they used the Taiwanese passports to flee the US without his presence or permission.
Two months later, Hsu traveled alone to the United States and left the child with Hsu’s parents in Taiwan. She allegedly asked Azoulay to send money for her so she could live in a waterfront apartment in New York City or she would never let him see her daughter again.
Azoulay’s first flight to Taiwan
Azoulay says he refused to give in to the “absurd demand” and instead took family leave from his job and flew to Taiwan to see his daughter. He could only take enough vacation to stay in Taiwan for a week.
During this time, Hsu assured him that she would return to the United States, asked for his sponsorship of US newspapers, and continued to demand that he grant her full financial support for living in New York. He claims that she completely ignored the fact that his new job was in Florida, that she agreed to live there in Taiwan before the delivery, and that the couple established a household in the state.
In April 2019, Hsu finally returned to the United States with her daughter, but refused to come to Florida. She insisted on moving to New York City, and Azoulay claims she forged paperwork to get an apartment in the city for $ 3,500 a month.
Azoulay claimed he was forced to sponsor Hsu in New York with monthly expenses exceeding $ 8,000. Azoulay says he had no choice as he feared that if he did not comply with her demands, she would kidnap the child again.
He agreed to give her full support, but only asked Hsu to return the child’s passports to him, fearing that she would be unstable and could abduct the child again. However, she refused and got angry, accusing him of not trusting her.
Azoulay said he had not considered divorcing Hsu at the time because she could not stay in the US as she was not a citizen.
Second alleged kidnapping
In August 2019, Hsu asked Azoulay to send her car from Florida to New York. He believes she did this with the aim of selling the car for cash.
When he refused, he claims that Hsu decided to “abduct” the child again to Taiwan. Azoulay said he got the impression that Hsu “was just going to sell the car and run away anyway”.
In September 2019, Azoulay filed for divorce in Broward County, Florida. Hsu returned to the United States that same month, but this time she came back alone, leaving the child with her parents in Taiwan.
He claims that Hsu lied because he came with the child. The New York Sheriff served her divorce papers, and a U.S. judge’s order said she must return the child’s passports, but the child was not with her. Hsu ignored the judge’s order and fled to Taiwan.
Azoulay has not seen his daughter in person since August 2019. During this time, his lawyers strongly advised him not to go to Taiwan.
In the time since he last saw his daughter, Hsu reportedly continued to ask for more and more money from Azoulay. However, he claims that she completely refused any access to the child.
According to Azoulay, she never allowed him to see the child on video. She seldom sent him pictures of the child and constantly pressured him to drop the Florida divorce case.
He accused Hsu of hurling “extremely brutal verbal abuse” on a daily basis while asking her to return with her daughter and allow him to see the child. Azoulay says Hsu is currently still seeking US sponsorship papers, but she is fighting the divorce case in the US while filing for divorce and monetary compensation in Taiwan.
In January 2020, he lost his position as senior advisor at ThoughtWorks due to verbal and psychological abuse and what he described as “extreme fear” of not being able to see his daughter.
Azoulay’s second flight to Taiwan
After Azoulay received help from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the Israeli consulate and the Taiwanese representative office in Miami, he was able to obtain a special COVID-19 visa and traveled to Taiwan on November 21 of this year. After spending over a month in Taiwan, including the 14-day quarantine, Azoulay has yet to see his daughter face to face.
On December 10th, he tried to visit her with the police and two lawyers. However, Hsu told police that he was from a country affected by the coronavirus and that they would not let him see for the child’s safety.
He then presented a document to the police stating that he had completed the 14-day quarantine. When officers drove Azoulay to her home, the police made her wait outside until they reached her lawyer, who explained that the child was not at home at the moment.
On December 15, Azoulay filed a criminal complaint against the child’s mother for alienation and child abduction. Although divorce proceedings are pending in Florida, Hsu has filed for divorce in Taiwan.
Azoulay’s lawyers are trying to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. He says he just wants his daughter back and the pain he is suffering from is unimaginable.
Hsu had initially agreed with lawyers that she would bring her daughter to meet him in Taipei 101 on December 13, but she resigned at the last minute. Later that day, she finally allowed him a quick video call with his daughter, a year and five months since he last saw her in August 2019.
She then allowed short video chats on December 16 and 18, and plans further calls on December 23 and 25. He claims the problem with video chats is that they happen late at night when the child is exhausted while the TV is booming in the background and adults are feeding the child and distracting them with toys.
On December 18, he heard from his lawyer that Hsu might be willing to let him see the child for an hour, on condition that it take place at the Nangang Police Station. However, he said he did not think this was appropriate for two reasons:
- It is not a good memory for the child to meet his father at a police station after a year and a half.
- He believes it could be a trap, as he suspects her father may have ties to the district.
At the time of publication, Azoulay has not yet seen his daughter in person. He says the first divorce hearing will be on December 23rd.
Taiwan News contacted Hsu and asked if she had any comments on the allegations Azoulay was making. She refused to respond directly to the allegations, only confirming that she had actually filed for divorce in Taiwan and that a trial is pending.