West v. Dobrev, 735 F.3d 921 (10th Cir. 2013)

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The proceedings concerned two children born in the United States of America in January 2004 and January 2006 to married parents. The family relocated to France in June 2008. In May 2009, the mother petitioned for divorce in a local French court. An interim order of October 2009 provided that the children live in the mother’s usual home.
In March 2010, the mother sought permission to move with the children to Belgium. In May 2010, the father moved back to the United States of America. In a further interim order of June 2010, the French court ordered that the children remain in the care of the mother and that she be allowed to relocate to Belgium, upon giving the father at least 15 days’ notice. Mother and children relocated in August 2010.
In the final French proceedings, in the summer of 2012, the father sought physical custody of the children. He did not contest the jurisdiction of the French Court nor submit that the mother had abused the children. The Court provided that parental authority should be shared, but that the children should continue to have their usual home with the mother. The father did not appeal the order.
On 11 July 2012, the father took the children to the United States of America for a vacation, pursuant to the terms of the final order. The father did not return the children as scheduled on 12 August 2012, rather he sought a custody order in a Utah State Court. This was subsequently stayed pursuant to Article 16 of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention.
On 23 August, the mother petitioned the United States District Court for the District of Utah for return of the children. A week later, the District Court decided that no evidentiary hearing was necessary.
On 5 September the District Court issued a brief written decision summarily granting the return petition and ordering the father to immediately return the children to the mother for their safe return with her to Belgium: West v. Dobrev, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126372 (D. Utah, Sept. 5, 2012). The father appealed.