Case Summaries

Rodriguez Munoz v. Ramirez; Case 7:2012cv00082

Case Conclusion Date: January 25, 2013
Practice Area: Family
Outcome: Petitioner's application for return of child under the Hague Convention was granted and the child returned to Mexico with her mother. Attorney fees were granted and the parties entered into an agreement for payment of same.
Description: After the Respondent wrongfully removed the child from Chihuahua, Mexico to Midland, Texas, Petitioner filed her Application for Return of Child under the Hague Convention.

Berezowsky v. Ojeda, 2013 WL 150714 (S.D.Tex.)

Case Conclusion Date: January 14, 2013
Practice Area: Family
Outcome: Petitioner's Application for Return of Child under the Hague Convention was Granted
Description: Because the outcome of Mexican court proceedings proved unfavorable to the respondent, he abducted the child from his school on October 11, 2012 in a dramatic act caught on video tape. Afterwards, the respondent crossed the border from Mexico into the United States, without permission from the petitioner, giving rise to the Amber alert that was issued by the Mexican officials. The Court found that petitioner satisfied all three elements of a prima facie case by a preponderance of the evidence and that the respondent has failed to establish his claimed defense by clear and convincing evidence. The Court found that Mexico was the child's habitual residence. The Court held that the respondent's removal of the child to the United States was a breach of the petitioner's "rights of custody" under both the laws of Mexico and Texas. The Court was also of the opinion that, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA"), the 410th District Court of Montgomery County, Texas, that granted rights of custody to the petitioner and the respondent, lost "exclusive continuing jurisdiction" when, pursuant to its own order, the parents not only moved to Mexico with the child, but established Mexico as the child's residence. Even assuming that Texas did not lose jurisdiction over the parties, at the very least, Mexico had concurrent jurisdiction because all the parties, including the child, resided in Mexico. Mexican courts affirmatively determined that they had jurisdiction over the parties. Moreover, even assuming arguendo that the Texas court retained continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over the parties, the petitioner would still have rights of custody under the October 21, 2011, order which granted the parties joint parental rights. While subsequent orders from January and February of 2012 purportedly modified the October 21, 2011, amended final order, this Court is of the opinion that those orders were entered in violation of the Due Process clause of the federal Constitution and the Hague Convention on service of process. Under the Hague Service Convention, signed by both Mexico and the United States, a Mexican national, like the petitioner, can be served with a foreign proceeding in Mexico only through the Central Authority of Mexico. See Hague Service Convention, arts. 2-5; Here, there was no evidence in the record that the respondent served the suits that resulted in the Texas orders modifying parental rights in accordance with the Hague Service Convention. Therefore, those orders were void. Since the Texas state court order designated Mexico as the child's residence, and specifically required that the child not travel outside of Mexico without consent of the parents, the respondent breached the petitioner's rights of custody under Texas law and, also under Mexican law, when he removed the child to the United States, admittedly, without the petitioner's permission. Finally, the Court concluded that the petitioner has established by a preponderance of the evidence that she was exercising her rights of custody prior to the child's removal from Mexico. The Fifth Circuit has noted that it is "relatively easy" to show that a petitioner was exercising her rights of custody, either jointly or alone, or would have exercised them but for the removal or retention. The evidence established that the petitioner, as the primary custodian of the child in Mexico, regularly exercised her rights of custody, including, inter alia, taking the child to school and providing for his welfare.

ROVIROSA v. PAETAU; Case H-12-1414

Case Conclusion Date: December 6, 2012
Practice Area: Family
Outcome: Petitioner's Petitioner for Return of the Children under the Hague Convention was Granted and the children were returned to Mexico.
Description: Petitioner, Leandro Ampudia Rovirosa ("Ampudia"), brought this action1 against Respondent, Michelle Vieth Paetau ("Vieth") pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction Remedies Act [hereinafter "Hague Convention"], 42 U.S.C. § 11601-11611, seeking the return of his son, L.A.V., and daughter, M.A.V., to Mexico from the United States. The case was tried to the court on December 3, 4, and 5, 2012.

Aduli v. Aduli; No. 14-10-01039-CV.

Case Conclusion Date: May 17, 2012
Practice Area: Family
Outcome: The ruling of the trial court was affirmed
Description: In this divorce appeal, Fardad Aduli argues that the trial court erred in denying his special appearance and abused its discretion in permitting his counsel to withdraw on the day of trial; denying his motions for a continuance and a new trial on the basis that he had been forced to leave the country; and adopting his wife's proposed division of the marital estate without sufficient evidence.

Salazar v. Maimon; Case 4:11-cv-04186

Case Conclusion Date: March 21, 2012
Practice Area: Family
Outcome: Petitioner's Application for Return of Child was Granted and the child was returned to Venezuela with her mother. The court later awarded applicant $39,078 in attorney fees and costs.
Description: After her daughter was wrongfully retained during summer visitation in Texas, Petitioner filed an Application for Return of Child under the Hague Convention.

Norinder v. Fuentes, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121476 (S.D. Ill. 2010) (affirmed 657 F.3d 526 (7th Cir. 2011))

Case Conclusion Date: September 6, 2011
Practice Area: Family
Outcome: Hague Application for Return of Child Granted
Description: Successfully petitioned for the return of a young boy to his habitual residence in Sweden. Fuentes abducted her son from Sweden during a vacation to the United States, where she hid the child from his father for months. After a diligent search, Laura Dale finally located Fuentes and the child in Illinois. Fuentes attempted to defend the abduction by claiming that Norinder was a physically abusive alcoholic and that she never consented to making Sweden the habitual residence of the child. During several days of hearings and testimony, Laura disproved Fuentes' allegations and the court ordered that the child return to Sweden. The court also ordered Fuentes to pay $150,570 in attorney's fees. This is the largest award of attorney's fees granted by the United States courts in a Hague case. Fuentes subsequently appealed the decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, where Laura Dale again successfully argued for the return of the child and award of attorney's fees. The case presented an important issue of first impression for the 7th Circuit - the ability of the lower courts to limit or deny pretrial discovery in time-sensitive Hague cases. After oral arguments, the Court of Appeals upheld both the return of the child and award of $150,570 in attorney's fees.

Klaus-Kortmann v. Dominguez

Case Conclusion Date: December 18, 2008
Practice Area: Family
Outcome: Hague Application for Return of Child Granted
Description: After Father wrongfully retained his daughter during a period of summer visitation, Mother filed her Application for Return of Child under the Hague Convention. Child had been residing in Holland for several years with her mother pursuant to a Texas custody order.

Livanos v. Livanos 333 S.W.3d 868 (2010)

Case Conclusion Date: December 30, 2010
Practice Area: Family
Outcome: The Texas state court order was over turned for defective service. Despite this outcome in Texas the objective of returning the child to Greece was met.
Description: After respondent (Mother) abducted child from Greece, Petitioner filed an Application for Return of Child under the Hague Convention. The application was granted by a Texas state court, however the child was later found in Maryland and the federal court in Maryland granted a subsequent return order for the child. The Texas state order was later over turned for defective service. Despite this outcome in Texas the objective of returning the child to Greece was met.

Larbie v. Larbie,

Successfully petitioned for the return of a child to his habitual residence in the United Kingdom after he was wrongfully retained in Texas by his father. This case involved especially unique and complex jurisdictional issues. During divorce proceedings in Texas, the parties entered into agreed orders allowing the mother to move to the United Kingdom with the child. The father subsequently gave his consent for the child to obtain permanent residency status in the United Kingdom.

Two years after the child moved to London, the father obtained a new divorce trial and requested primary custody of the child. Even though Texas no longer had jurisdiction to determine custody of the child, the Texas court awarded custody to the father. The mother, who appeared at the new trial with the child, was ordered to surrender the child. Pursuant to the Texas order, the father retained the child in Texas.

After the Hague petition was filed, the father denied that he consented to making the United Kingdom the habitual residence of the child. The Western District of Texas found that the father did, in fact, give his consent, that the child was a habitual resident of the United Kingdom and that the father wrongfully retained the child, despite the Texas order. The court ordered the father to return the child to the United Kingdom.

Norinder v. Fuentes, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121476 (S.D. Ill. 2010) (affirmed 657 F.3d 526 (7th Cir. 2011))

Successfully petitioned for the return of a young boy to his habitual residence in Sweden. Fuentes abducted her son from Sweden during a vacation to the United States, where she hid the child from his father for months. After a diligent search, Laura Dale finally located Fuentes and the child in Illinois. Fuentes attempted to defend the abduction by claiming that Norinder was a physically abusive alcoholic and that she never consented to making Sweden the habitual residence of the child. During several days of hearings and testimony, Laura disproved Fuentes' allegations and the court ordered that the child return to Sweden. The court also ordered Fuentes to pay $150,570 in attorney's fees. This is the largest award of attorney's fees granted by the United States courts in a Hague case.

Fuentes subsequently appealed the decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, where Laura Dale again successfully argued for the return of the child and award of attorney's fees. The case presented an important issue of first impression for the 7th Circuit – the ability of the lower courts to limit or deny pretrial discovery in time-sensitive Hague cases. After oral arguments, the Court of Appeals upheld both the return of the child and award of $150,570 in attorney's fees.