The Krause-Amore family, from left, Emanuele, Karyn, Carmelo and Nicolas. Photo by Bonnie Miller

Reconciliation takes edge off of custody battle

Two years ago, Karyn Krause and Carmelo Amore were embroiled in a custody battle over their two sons that spanned two continents and required the intervention of a Sicilian court associated with The Hague.

Last month, the San Francisco Bay Area couple who once lived in Central Point with Krause's parents, Gary and Bonnie Miller, took the final step toward reconciliation by moving back in together with their sons, Emanuele, 7, and Nicolas, 5.

The story about the couple's battle for their sons after Amore took the boys to Italy and kept them there against Krause's wishes was publicized in the media in the United States and in Italy.

"We've reconciled all our differences, and we are a big, happy family," Krause says. "It's a very happy ending."

After Krause asked for a separation in spring 2007, Amore took the two boys to Italy for a nine-week vacation visiting extended family.

The boys' vacation ended up lasting seven months. Shortly before their scheduled return, Amore announced that he, Emanuele and Nicolas wouldn't be returning to California.

He consulted an attorney and filed for custody of the boys in Italy. In response, Karyn filed a complaint with the U.S. State Department to try to get the boys back to California.

A court in Catania, Italy, a part of The Hague Conventions on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, on Nov. 16, 2007, ruled in Krause's favor. By then, she and her sons had been separated for seven months, and she had incurred about $80,000 in legal and travel expenses.

Amore initially defied the order, fleeing with the two boys and hiding them in an undisclosed location, but he later returned to his apartment in Ispica, a village in Sicily, and finally handed them over to Krause.

Amore says the media made him out to be a kidnapper who didn't want Krause to have access to the boys, but insists that wasn't the reality.

The family had a history in Italy. The couple met there while Krause was living and working there as a public relations manager and editor for a medical journal. That's also where the couple married and where Emanuele and Nicolas were born before the family moved to California in November 2005. They lived with Krause's parents in Central Point before Krause landed an administrative job at the University of California at Berkeley.

When Amore later decided to keep the boys in Italy, he says, he was advised by his attorney that he had every right to do so. The boys, as well Amore and Krause, are Italian citizens. He says he had asked Krause to come to Italy to discuss their marital problems and custody of the boys, but as the anger between the two escalated, the communication broke down.

Amore says he gave up his photography and graphic design business in Italy when the family first moved to California. He tried to peddle his photography skills in the Bay Area but wasn't able to make a comparable living. As a result, he stayed home with the kids.

When Krause told him she wanted to end the marriage, he was concerned that while he was in the country legally, he was not a U.S. citizen and could lose some of his rights to his children.

"He was really hurting and just responding because he came here and was looking for work and doing his best," Krause says.

Once The Hague resolved which country would decide custody, Amore faced a difficult road to regain rights to his children.

He followed Krause and the boys to California for custody proceedings without knowing whether he would be arrested by U.S. authorities.

Initially, he was given supervised visitation rights in which he wasn't allowed to speak in Italian to them during the visits.

"The kids would ask, 'Why can't you come to our house?' " Amore remembers. "Everyone was suffering."

Gradually, the judge gave Amore more privileges, and as the anger between the couple faded, Krause sometimes would let the kids stay with Amore.

In January, the couple began spending more time together, and the relationship healed. In June, Amore moved back in with the family in Albany, just north of Berkeley.

"I prefer that things went in the end the way they are now because I see the kids so happy," Amore says. "It's like they are back to being confident in themselves. I saw them unhappy and sad before. The kids needed to have both parents. Now they seem happy. It's a new life."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or

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