Karkkainen v. Kovalchuk, 445 F.3d 280 (3rd Cir. 2006)

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The application related to a girl born in Russia in April 1992. She lived in Russia with her parents until 1997 when the parents divorced. She then moved to Finland with her mother.
Both parents remarried and the girl saw her father periodically visiting him in Europe or in the United States. The girl frequently had problems securing a visa to the United States and the parents took steps to secure the girl permanent resident status there. This was finalised in a visit in October 2002.
In the winter of 2002/3 the girl and her parents began to plan for her to make a longer visit to the United States. The girl began to express a wish to relocate to the United States.
In June 2003 the girl travelled to the United States. The purpose of the trip was the subject of dispute. The father and girl held that it was a trial, at the end of which the girl would decide whether she would remain permanently. The mother argued that it was a summer visit and that the girl was to return on 10 August.
During the vacation the girl took academic classes, studied photography, travelled in the United States, and cultivated her relationships with her step-mother and step-family. In addition, she was admitted to a private American school where she enrolled to attend class in the autumn. When the girl did not return to Finland in August 2003 the mother filed a return petition.
The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. (D.C. Civil No. 04-cv-00662) dismissed the application finding that the girl had become acclimatized during her stay was as a consequence habitually resident in the United States by the date of her retention. The mother appealed.