Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Fee Award in Hague Abduction Convention Case

by Jeremy D. Morley

It is gratifying that, in its award of legal fees to my client, whose child was successfully returned from New York to Spain pursuant to the Hague Abduction Convention, the U.S. district court’s calculation was based in part on my status as “one of the leading experts” on the Convention, who has lectured, written and testified as an expert on the Hague Convention and international family law. Grano v. Martin, 2021 WL 350016 (S.D.N.Y., Aug. 9, 2021). 

The fee award was granted even though there was some evidence of abuse by the petitioner. The district court ruled that this case, which was almost entirely about psychological as opposed to physical abuse, and in which both sides were less than candid, did not rise to the level of those cases justifying complete denial of an award. Further, an award of at least some fees serves the statutory purpose of deterring future child abductions. 

The Second Circuit’s affirmance of the original return order (Grano v. Martin, 821 F. App'x 26 (2d Cir. 2020)) is an important application of the new U.S. interpretation of the key term of “habitual residence” that was established by the Supreme Court in Monasky v. Taglieri, 140 S. Ct. 719, 722 (2020).  

For a full discussion of the Monasky case, see Jeremy D. Morley, The Hague Abduction Convention: Practical issues and Procedures for Family Lawyers, (Third Edition, 2021, published by the American Bar Association), available here.