Wednesday, July 15, 2009

custody - Hague Convention - surrender of passports, etc.

Axford v. Axford - ED Pa. - July 10, 2009

Expedited ex parte Motion for Expedited Service and Surrender of Passports and Travel Documents granted.

International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11601 et seq., which implemented the Hague Convention, entitles a person whose child has been wrongfully removed to the United States, usually by a parent, to petition a federal court to order the child returned. See Tsai-Yi Yang v. Fu-Chiang Tsui, 499 F.3d 259, 270 (3d Cir. 2007) (“A person claiming that a child has been wrongfully removed to or retained in the United States can commence judicial proceedings under the Hague Convention by filing a petition for the return of the child in a state or federal court which has jurisdiction where the child is located.” (citing 42 U.S.C. § 11603(b)). The Hague Convention reflects a universal concern about the harm done to children by parental kidnaping and a strong desire among the Contracting States to implement an effective deterrent to such behavior. Hague Convention, Preamble, 42 U.S.C. § 11601(a)(1)-(4)

The Hague Convention has two main purposes: “to ensure the prompt return of children to the state of their habitual residence when they have been wrongfully removed,” and “to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in the other Contracting States.” Karkkainen v. Kovalchuk, 445 F.3d 280, 287 (3d Cir. 2006) (citations omitted). The Hague Convention’s procedures are designed “to restore the status quo prior to any wrongful removal or retention and to deter parents from engaging in international forum shopping in custody cases.” Baxter v. Baxter, 423 F.3d 363, 367 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Feder v. Evans-Feder, 63 F.3d 217, 221 (3d Cir. 1995)). The Hague Convention is not designed to settle international custody disputes, but rather to ensure that cases are heard in the proper court. See Hague Convention, art. 19 (“A decision under this Convention concerning the return of the child shall not be taken to be a determination on the merits of any custody issue.”).

Surrender of passports, etc. - A court exercising jurisdiction under the Hague Convention “may take or cause to be taken measures under Federal or State law, as appropriate, to protect the well-being of the child involved or to prevent the child’s further removal or concealment before the final disposition of [a] petition.” 42 U.S.C. § 11604(a). In accordance with this authority, federal courts have ordered respondents to surrender their passports to the Clerk of Court and to remain in the court’s jurisdiction pending resolution of a petition.