Friday, February 14, 2020

Registration of Israeli Divorce Outside Israel

Jeremy Morley

Israel’s Population Registration Law requires Israeli citizens to inform the Population Registry at Israel’s Ministry of the Interior of any change in their personal status. Israeli citizens outside Israel can do so through the Consular Departments of overseas Israeli missions.
This means that if an Israeli citizen who is divorced abroad should notify the Population Registry of the change in status on the required form together with (a) the divorce certificate verified by means of an apostille together with (b) a photocopy of the first page of the spouse’s Israeli and foreign passports (if such exist) and (c) a translation of the divorce certificate if in a language other than English.
Here is the Miami Consulate’s version of the required form:

Monday, February 10, 2020

Concentration of Hague Abduction Convention Jurisdiction in Florida

Jeremy D. Morley

The Florida Supreme Court has taken a pioneering step forward by creating a concentration of jurisdiction for the state of Florida trial courts to determine cases filed by left behind parents of children located in Florida who seek relief concerning their children pursuant to the 1980 Child Abduction Convention.
Administrative Order AOSC19-19 requires the chief judge of each of Florida's 20 judicial circuits to designate one judge with primary responsibility for handling all Hague cases filed within that circuit. It further requires that these 20 judges participate in educational opportunities to learn the substantive law and procedural requirements for Hague cases. The Order explains that, “It is the intent of the Florida State Courts System to better protect children from the effects of their wrongful removal through the establishment of a network of Florida judges who develop expertise in this important area of law.”
In Florida's state court system, Hague cases may be filed in any Circuit Court, which is the statewide trial court of general jurisdiction. There are more than 500 judges who sit in Florida's 20 judicial circuits who have the legal authority to determine these cases. Florida is one of the top four U.S. states receiving the greatest number of Hague filings (New York, California and Texas being the other three), and receives approximately 45 incoming cases annually.
Apart from Florida, it appears that there is no other concentration of Hague cases in a limited number of courts in the United States.
Moreover, the Florida rule does not address the fact that there is concurrent state and federal jurisdiction for Hague cases in the U.S. Indeed, most experienced Hague practitioners usually prefer to bring cases in, or remove cases to, the appropriate federal court.
The United States has several thousand separate jurisdictions, any of which may handle Hague cases, comprising approximately 3,140 counties or county equivalents and 94 federal districts. The completely different backgrounds of family court judges and federal judges means that the choice of one system or the other might have a major impact on the outcome of the case.
Most judges in the United States who might be called upon to handle Hague cases have never done so previously. In this author's experience, it is more usual than not for a judge in a Hague case to report that, “This is my first Hague case” and then to ask the lawyers to provide special support for that reason.
Florida's new system for its state courts is a step forward, which should be adopted nationwide. 
Indeed, the entire system as to the courts that handle Hague cases should be reviewed and reformed so that a select group of specially trained and experienced judges handle these cases. This is precisely the system that the State Department has successfully encouraged other countries to adopt. See my article, People in Glass Houses.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Issuance of U.S. Passports for Children

One of the best ways to prevent international child abduction is to maintain careful control over the child’s passports.

On the other hand, it is often essential for left-behind parents to obtain new passports for children who have been abducted, especially if they want to bring them home directly.

Here is an overview of the fundamental rules.

The U.S State Department will normally not issue a new or replacement passport for a child to one parent without a notarized written statement or affidavit from the non-applying parent or legal guardian, if applicable, consenting to the issuance of the passport. However, the governing regulations also authorize the submission of a birth certificate providing the minor's name, date and place of birth, and the name of only the applying parent; a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America or a Certification of Report of Birth of a United States Citizen providing the minor's name, date and place of birth, and the name of only the applying parent; a copy of the death certificate for the non-applying parent or legal guardian; or an adoption decree showing the name of only the applying parent.
 A further exception is if there is an order of a court of competent jurisdiction granting sole legal custody to the applying parent or legal guardian containing no travel restrictions inconsistent with issuance of the passport; or, specifically authorizing the applying parent or legal guardian to obtain a passport for the minor, regardless of custodial arrangements; or specifically authorizing the travel of the minor with the applying parent or legal guardian; or an order of a court of competent jurisdiction terminating the parental rights of the non-applying parent or declaring the non-applying parent or legal guardian to be incompetent.

The Regulations expressly provide that an order of a court of competent jurisdiction providing for joint legal custody or requiring the permission of both parents or the court for important decisions will be interpreted as requiring the permission of both parents or the court, as appropriate. 22 C.F.R. §51.28.

Another exception is that a passport may be issued when only one parent, legal guardian, or person acting in loco parentis executes the application in cases of exigent or special family circumstances. 22 C.F.R. §51.28(a)(5). “Exigent circumstances” are defined as time-sensitive circumstances in which the inability of the minor to obtain a passport would jeopardize the health and safety or welfare of the minor or would result in the minor being separated from the rest of his or her traveling party. “Time sensitive” generally means that there is not enough time before the minor's emergency travel to obtain either the required consent of both parents/legal guardians or documentation reflecting a sole parent's/legal guardian's custody rights.

Special family circumstances” are defined as circumstances in which the minor's family situation makes it exceptionally difficult for one or both of the parents to execute the passport application; and/or compelling humanitarian circumstances where the minor's lack of a passport would jeopardize the health, safety, or welfare of the minor; or, pursuant to guidance issued by the Department, circumstances in which return of a minor to the jurisdiction of his or her home state or habitual residence is necessary to permit a court of competent jurisdiction to adjudicate or enforce a custody determination. A limited administrative appeal may be brought against a refusal by the State Department to waive the two-parent requirement.

The U.S. State Department may refuse to issue a passport – except for direct return to the United States – if it “determines or is informed by a competent authority” that the applicant is a minor who has been abductedwrongfully removed or retained in violation of a court order or decree and return to his or her home state or habitual residence is necessary to permit a court of competent jurisdiction to determine custody matters.” 22 C.F.R. § 51.60 (e).