NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Japanese officials say that the U.S.-recognized divorce between Christopher and Nokita Savoie does not apply in Japan, because it was never annulled in that country, according to CNN.
Christopher Savoie is currently in Japanese custody after grabbing his two children, who had been abducted to Japan by their mother against a U.S. court custody ruling, and trying to take them to the American Consulate.
It is unclear when and where Christopher and Noriko Savoie were married, and CBS affiliate WTVF is continuing to investigate court documents, but records indicate that the couple's divorce was finalized in January 2009 in Franklin, Tenn.
Court records in Tennessee indicate the Savoies lived in Japan from 2001 to 2008, and that Savoie obtained Japanese citizenship.VIDEO COURTESY OF CBS AFFILIATE WTVF NASHVILLE
He first asked a court in Tennessee to block a possible abduction in October 2008 during divorce proceedings, and a Williamson County judge ordered Noriko Savoie to turn the children's passports over to the court clerk.
Soon after their divorce was final in January 2009, he again asked for help from the courts, seeking primary custody of the children or an assurance that his ex-wife would not flee with them. He turned over a February e-mail from his ex-wife as evidence that she might leave the country with them.
But in April, a judge held that Noriko Savoie could take the children to Japan for a vacation. In the order, the judge wrote that "this court fully recognizes Father's concerns regarding Japanese law and the protection of his rights. However, Mother has clearly testified that she intends to remain in Franklin, Tennessee, with the children."
Noriko Savoie was given the passports. She took the children on vacation and returned as scheduled. But two weeks later, they were gone again. Williamson County Clerk and Master Elaine Beeler said there was no court order requiring the mother to return the children's passports after the vacation.
Photos: Father's Fight to Rescue Children
Christopher Savoie is chief executive officer of Franklin-based Tazzle Inc., which makes data-sharing devices for BlackBerry mobile phones. The company has an office in Tokyo that oversees manufacturing in Asia, according to the company's Web site.
He previously founded and ran Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company GNI Ltd., according to court filings. Savoie moved back to the United States in January 2008 and Noriko Savoie and the children moved here in June of that year. Divorce proceedings began soon after.
Now, Christopher Savoi sits in a Japanese jail cell, his future uncertain. He faces up to five years for the attempted kidnap of his own children.
MORE ON CRIMESIDER
October 1, 2009 - Christopher Savoie, Dad Jailed in Japan for Child Rescue, Speaks from Prison
September 30, 2009 - Amy Savoie Speaks About Christopher Savoie's "Desperate" Attempt to Reclaim Children from Japan
September 29, 2009 - Christopher Savoie Follows Abducted Children to Japan, Gets Arrested (Photos)