British mother loses appeal for custody of her four-year-old twins after court rules Austrian doctor ex-husband is better parent
- Beth Schlesinger, 29, and Dr Michael Schlesinger split after eight months
- Austrian court ruled she can only see her sons for 20 hours a fortnight
- After an appeal European judges ruled that her husband is a ‘better parent’
- Mrs Schlesinger says Samuel and Benjamin being ‘deprived of human rights’
PUBLISHED: 14:32, 7 November 2013 | UPDATED: 14:51, 7 November 2013
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A British woman who married a wealthy Austrian doctor has lost an appeal for custody of their four year-old twins after a court ruled he is the better parent.
Cambridge graduate Beth Schlesinger fell in love with society doctor Michael Schlesinger, but after having sons Samuel and Benjamin their marriage fell apart.
After he was given custody of their boys, the daughter of a successful Manchester solicitor has been fighting the decision for two years but has lost her latest appeal.
She had moved to Vienna to marry him despite protests from her parents and being unable to speak any German.
But, she said, the relationship began to wane after only a week and just eight months later the relationship was over.
She claims he became so controlling he would not even let her go to the toilet at night.
After they separated and started a custody battle over the children, Dr Schlesinger, 33, unsuccessfully attempted to have his wife sectioned.
His claims that she had a mental illness were dismissed in court, but an Austrian judge still took the rare step of giving him sole custody of the twins.
Mrs Schlesinger now has visitation rights but can see her sons Samuel and Benjamin for only 20 hours a fortnight.
She has accused the court of unfairly favouring her ‘well-connected’ husband and has appealed to the Austrian high court, which failed today.
She now plans to launch a final appeal with Austria’s Supreme Court and claims the her sons have started self-harming.
‘There seems to be no justice in this country, that they can deprive two little boys of their mother in such a barbaric way,’ she said.
‘It contravenes all human rights. Sammy and Benji are two vulnerable little boys who have a right to their mother in their lives.
‘Everybody involved in the story over here – from lawyers to journalists to social workers are shocked and outraged at this decision.
‘Why the Austrian justice system refuses to acknowledge that simple truth is beyond me. I only hope that sanity and justice are restored soon.’
Mrs Schlesinger is still legally married and living in Vienna where she feels ‘marooned’, fearing that by returning to the UK she will lose her chance of seeing her twins for good.
She has accused the court of ‘xenophobia’ and said her husband had benefited from friendships in the Austrian legal sector.
She said: ‘It all seemed very romantic and a big adventure, but the marriage was terrible from the beginning.
‘Looking back I realise that I never really knew Michael. I was so naive and I fell for him as he was very charming and seemed like a caring, trustworthy person. I was so wrong.’
Mr Schlesinger, 33, was unavailable for comment.