Cases & Deals

Court orders children returned to father in Canada in international child abduction case

Client(s) Client M

In December 2011, after a five-day bench trial, a federal judge entered an order in favor of Jones Day's client in an international child abduction case directing the return of his three young children, two with special needs, to Canada to be reunited with their father pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and United States federal law.

The family had been living in Canada. After the parents separated, the mother took the children from Canada to the United States in violation of a Canadian court order entered in ongoing custody proceedings there. This led to a finding of contempt and a warrant for her arrest. It also effectively denied the father any custody or access rights to his children because he was unable to enter the United States at the time the mother crossed with them over the border. In addition, it disrupted the treatment and education plans in place in Canada for the two children with special needs.

Jones Day Pittsburgh attorneys Meg Gleason and Courtney Snyder filed a verified petition for return of the children on behalf of the father in federal court, and sought return of the children on an expedited basis. On the day the lawsuit was initiated, a federal judge granted Jones Day's request for a temporary restraining order providing the father with immediate telephone access rights and preventing the mother from leaving the jurisdiction or removing the children from the jurisdiction. After expedited briefing on the merits, and a five-day evidentiary trial that included serious but unfounded allegations of child abuse, as well as testimony from both parents and other witnesses and in camera interviews of the children, the federal court granted relief in favor of Jones Day's client and ordered the children returned to their father in Canada.