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International Family Law

The leading authority on international family law

15 APR 2013

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Failure to return child - Hague Convention - Art (15(6)


The parents married in the United States of America in 2003 but moved to the UK soon after because of the deportation of the father for failing to disclose three theft convictions. The child was born in 2007. In 2008, the family were evicted from their home. This followed the father's arrest on fraud charges (which were later dismissed). The mother wished to return to the United States with the child and the father consented to the mother returning for a short stay in Florida. The mother failed to return to the UK at the end of the period and the father issued return proceedings under the Hague Convention. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida found that the child would be exposed to a grave risk of harm if a return order was made and declined to order the return. The father appealed.


1)            The appeal was dismissed. The Court confirmed that the potential harm to satisfy Article 13(b) must be a ‘great deal more than minimal' (Walsh v Walsh, 221 F.3d 204, 218 (1st Cir. 2000)).

2)            Anonymous death threats had been made to the mother while in the UK, which the Court found were related to the father's history of offending. The father had also himself threatened to kill the mother in the past. Taken together, these factors were sufficient to satisfy the Article 13(b) test in this case.

3)            The Court upheld the finding that the father's account about the identity of the anonymous third party was not credible. His fraudulent activities had created a situation which put the child in danger and which was likely to expose the child to further risk in the future.

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