In a case involving custody issues determined under the Hague Convention concerning child custody, a petition was brought in Family Court in Kings County before Family Court Justice Paul Goetz. The mother in this case had obtained an order of custody. This order was obtained after the father defaulted in responding to the application for custody of the parties’ child. Thereafter, the father brought a proceeding to reopen the custody order. He sought to proceed in his petition for the return of his child to the Dominican Republic. He claimed pursuant to the Hague Convention, on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, he was entitled to return with the child to their home country, the Dominican Republic.
The Judge’s Decision
Justice Goetz denied the father’s application. He found the conditions for the mother to have the child permanently reside in the United States pursuant to the Hague Convention had been met. He took into consideration the child had obtained his permanent residency status (green card) in the United States. He found the child had become adjusted to life in the United States and enjoyed living here. The child had received excellent grades in school and had participated in sports in the community. He found the child spoke English. In addition, the child lived with a half brother and had relatives within close proximity with whom he spent a significant amount of time. In addition, the court noted more than a year had passed since the mother had “retained” the child in the United States. This, the court claimed, allowed the judge to consider whether the child had settled into his new environment. The court concluded the mother had met her obligations under the Hague Convention by demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence the child had settled and was doing well in New York and should remain in New York.
Elliot S. Schlissel is a family law attorney who helps keep children in the United States under the Hague Convention under the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.