Monday, June 28, 2021

Hague Abduction Case Reliance on Morley Treatise

In a Hague Abduction Convention case in the United States District Court in Savannah, Georgia, the Court relied on the opinions that I expressed in the 2020 edition of my treatise on International Family Law Practice that (a) international travel authorizations should normally be afforded only limited significance as evidence of consent to indefinite relocation and (b) a relocation of a petitioning parent to a country other than the child's habitual residence does not prevent the return of that child to the petitioner at the petitioner's current place of residence. Rishmawy v. Vergara, 2021 WL 1760303 (S,D, Ga., May 4, 2021).

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Costa Rica: State Department's Annual Report on International Child Abduction, 2021

Country Summary: The Convention has been in force between the United States and Costa Rica since 2008. In 2020, Costa Rica continued to demonstrate a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the judicial authorities failed to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention. As a result of this failure, 29 percent of requests for the return of abducted children under the Convention remained unresolved for more than 12 months. The Department is unaware of any judicially ordered returns of children to the United States in 2020. On average, these cases were unresolved for one year and nine months. Costa Rica was previously cited for demonstrating a pattern of noncompliance in the 2011- 2016, and 2020 Annual Reports. 

Initial Inquiries: In 2020, the Department received two initial inquiries from parents regarding a possible abduction to Costa Rica for which no completed applications were submitted to the Department.

Significant developments: Costa Rica’s Supreme Court, with the support of the Department, successfully hosted a series of virtual seminars from November 2020 through February 2021 on Hague Abduction Convention best practices. The seminars brought together Costa Rican Supreme Court judges, Department representatives, as well as legal experts and judges from Costa Rica, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Canada, and the United States. 

Central Authority: The U.S. and the Costa Rican Central Authorities have a productive relationship that facilitates the resolution of abduction cases under the Convention.

Voluntary Resolution: The Convention states that central authorities “shall take all appropriate measures to secure the voluntary return of the child or to bring about an amicable resolution of the issues.” In 2020, one abduction case was resolved through voluntary means. 

Location: The competent authorities regularly took appropriate steps to locate children after a Convention application was filed. On average, it took less than one month to locate a child. As of December 31, 2020, there were no open cases where the Costa Rican authorities remained unable to locate a child. 

Judicial Authorities: There were significant delays by the Costa Rican judicial authorities in deciding Convention cases. As a result of these delays, cases may be pending with the judiciary for over one year, contributing to a pattern of noncompliance. Additionally, judicial authorities rendered one decision that was not compliant with the Convention. Another case remained unresolved for one year and three months. 

Enforcement: The United States is not aware of any abduction cases in which a judicial order relating to international parental child abduction needed to be enforced by the Costa Rican authorities. Department Recommendations: The Department will continue intense engagement with the Costa Rican authorities to address issues of concern.