American father brings home 6- and 8-year-old daughters five years after ex-wife took them to Argentina and refused to return

  • Dennis Burns lost his two daughters Victoria, 8, and Sophia, 6, in September 2010 when his wife took them to Argentina 
  • He finally won the right to bring them home after a long and bitter international custody battle last month
  • The two girls are now back home in Colorado and are allowed chaperoned visits with their mother, Ana Alianelli 
  • Burns claims Alianelli wouldn't allow him to Skype with the two girls when they lived in Argentina, despite a court order  

An American father has been reunited with his two young daughters, five years after his ex-wife kidnapped the two girls and took them to her native Argentina.

After a long and dramatic international custody battle, an Argentinian judge last month named father Dennis Burns the primary parent and he was finally allowed to bring his daughters Victoria, 8, and Sophia, 6, home to Snowmass, Colorado.

The father and his two daughters arrived back in the U.S. on April 16 and he says his girls are doing well and making new friends despite the fact that they've had to leave the only home they remember. 

Back home: Two young girls were reunited with their father last month, after spending five years in their mother's native Argentina in an international custody battle. Father Dennis Burns pictured left with his daughters Sophia, 6 (center), and Victoria, 8 (right), back in the U.S. 

Back home: Two young girls were reunited with their father last month, after spending five years in their mother's native Argentina in an international custody battle. Father Dennis Burns pictured left with his daughters Sophia, 6 (center), and Victoria, 8 (right), back in the U.S. 

Mother: Burns' ex-wife Ana Alianelli (center) kidnapped her girls to Argentina in September 2010, when a U.S. judge gave the father custody. They have remained there until just last month

Mother: Burns' ex-wife Ana Alianelli (center) kidnapped her girls to Argentina in September 2010, when a U.S. judge gave the father custody. They have remained there until just last month

The girls' mother Ana Alianelli is also back in the country, and is being allowed chaperoned visits with the two girls. 

Though there is still bad blood between Burns and his ex-wife - who claims he beat her during their five-year marriage - he hopes to one day be on good terms with the mother of his beloved daughters. 

'I want the girls to begin to live like normal kids their age. Have friends, go to school. That they share their time with their dad and their mom,' Burns told the Post Independent

However, attempts to keep the custodial situation civilized were hampered on April 16, when Alianelli's brother attacked Burns at the airport as he was getting ready to board a flight back to America with his daughters. 

The highly-charged altercation was caught on camera by the numerous American and Argentinian reporters covering the story at the airport. 

Fighting: Burns was attacked by Alianelli's brother on the day he left Argentina with his two little girls last month

Fighting: Burns was attacked by Alianelli's brother on the day he left Argentina with his two little girls last month

Won't let go: Alianelli's brother pictured above in a blue shirt during the high-charged altercation 

Won't let go: Alianelli's brother pictured above in a blue shirt during the high-charged altercation 

Injuries: Burns claims to have injured his neck in the attack, and got off the plane at its first stop in Texas to see a doctor for pain 

Injuries: Burns claims to have injured his neck in the attack, and got off the plane at its first stop in Texas to see a doctor for pain 

Other side of the story: Alianelli spoke with CNN after landing back in Colorado last month, saying: 'The story is not only one-sided'

Other side of the story: Alianelli spoke with CNN after landing back in Colorado last month, saying: 'The story is not only one-sided'

Burns was so seriously injured in the attack that he actually had to get off the plane at its first stop in Texas - instead of Colorado - to see a doctor about neck pain. 

So Alianelli was the only one to get off the flight when it landed back in Colorado.

She told CNN at the airport: 'This story is not only [one-sided].'

Burns also claims that Alianelli refused to let him Skype with his children for a 17-month period while they were living in Argentina, and that even his parents couldn't get in contact with the girls for Christmas day call.  

After the Burns divorced in 2010, Alianelli claimed that her husband had abused her during their marriage in an attempt to win full custody of their children, then just 1- and 3-years-old. 

But the judge found the claims to have no merit and instead awarded custody to the father - an unusual decision in most divorce cases. 

Shortly after that, the girls went missing and Burns realized that Alianelli had taken off with them back to her home country of Argentina. 

American girls: In a recent interview, Burns says his girls are doing well and making new friends despite leaving the only home they've ever remembered. Pictured above in a picture posted to Facebook shortly after they arrived back in the U.S. 

American girls: In a recent interview, Burns says his girls are doing well and making new friends despite leaving the only home they've ever remembered. Pictured above in a picture posted to Facebook shortly after they arrived back in the U.S. 

As they start their new life in America, the girls are being allowed chaperoned visits with their mother. Pictured above in recent photos posted to Burns' Facebook
As they start their new life in America, the girls are being allowed chaperoned visits with their mother. Pictured above in recent photos posted to Burns' Facebook

New life: As they start their new life in America, the girls are being allowed chaperoned visits with their mother. Pictured above in recent photos posted to Burns' Facebook 

Argentina is a member of the Hague Convention, a group of countries that work together to adhere to each other's custodial rulings. 

The guidelines of the convention were set up to help speed up the process of international custody battles, but instead Burns spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and years trying to get his girls returned under the original ruling.

In a Facebook post on April 8, Burns also claimed that Alianelli had a hand in his bankruptcy which has made it nearly impossible for him to visit his children regularly or fight for custody. 

He said he made approximately $40million as a real estate broker, and invested $700,000 into their home in Aspen. When they were divorcing, Burns said he tried to sell the house but Alianelli refused to sign the paperwork.   

'Ana TOLD me that if I wouldn't agree to sign the paperwork for her to move permanently with our children to Argentina, she would NOT sign the listing agreement to sell the home and recover the remaining money in the home.

Cold: Burns also claims that his parents (pictured) were banned from Skyping his daughters on Christmas by Alianelli
Cold: Burns also claims that his parents (pictured) were banned from Skyping his daughters on Christmas by Alianelli

Cold: Burns also claims that his parents (pictured) were banned from Skyping his daughters on Christmas by Alianelli 

'I would NOT agree to let my children be taken away so she said LITERALLY..."My attorney told me not to sign the lisitng agreement so the home goes into foreclosure, you will have to file bankruptcy, you wont be able to pay your child support, and the judge will have to let me leave for Argentina." 

'She did exactly that... The house was foreclosed since I couldnt sell it without her signature. We lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bank. I ended up having to file bankruptcy and the judge discovered the truth about what she did,' he said. 

Burns says he's still scared that Alianelli might kidnap his girls again. 

'Absolutely! How can I completely prevent her from doing that again? And I’d have to go through all this again. I spent five years trying to get them back ... or it could be worse because the next time I appear in Argentina they say they are going to kill me. 

'But I don’t intend to cut the relationship of the girls with their family in Argentina. If all goes well, I’ll consider something in the future. If I have death threats in Argentina and Ana’s brother attacked me in the (Buenos Aires international) airport and threatens me also, how does Ana expect me to go?'

Despite the difficult battle, Burns is just glad to have his daughters back home where he can see them all the time now. 

When the lived in Argentina, Burns, who works in real estate, was allowed to visit but had to pay for his own tickets back and forth. Altogether he says he was only able to visit them about seven times.   

How they've grown: Burns pictured with his children around the time they were kidnapped in 2010 

How they've grown: Burns pictured with his children around the time they were kidnapped in 2010 

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