In a decision rendered earlier this year, the Connecticut Appellate Court upheld a lower court ruling that allowed a mother to travel internationally with the parties’ minor children without providing prior notice to, or receiving permission from, the children’s father. The parties in this post judgment divorce action were married for approximately three years and were the parents of two minor children. As part of its final judgment of dissolution, the court ordered that neither parent could travel with the children to a country that had not ratified the Hague Convention or that was on the list of countries for which the United States had not accepted accessions. This was presumably an issue during the parties’ divorce as the wife was a Russian citizen, owned property in Russia and maintained significant ties with family that still lived there.
Approximately two years after the parties’ divorce, the wife filed a motion for temporary custody and supervised visitation, claiming that the husband’s behavior was becoming threatening and increasingly bizarre. After a lengthy period of litigation, the court awarded the mother sole custody and ordered the father’s visitation to be supervised. The court also entered an order permitting the mother to travel internationally with the children without providing prior notice to, or receiving permission from, the father.
The father appealed, claiming the lower court erred in allowing the mother to travel with the children to Russia. According to the father, Russia’s status as a nonsignatory country to the Hague Convention’s child abduction provisions prevented the court from maintaining jurisdiction and/or enforcing its custody orders in the event the mother decided not to return with the children. However, the Appellate Court was not persuaded. Pointing out that there was no credible evidence to suggest that the mother would refuse to return with the children, the Court noted that the mother had invested time and money in establishing a home and career in Connecticut, that she was taking all the necessary steps to become a United States citizen and that she was making the children available to the father for his supervised visitation.
By: Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.
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