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Friday, October 19, 2012

Hynes v. Berger, 2012 WL 4889854 (D.Md.) [Germany] [Federal & State Judicial Remedies] [Denial of Notice and Opportunity to be Heard]


In Hynes v. Berger, 2012 WL 4889854 (D.Md.), decided October 12, 2012, Shawn T. Hynes filed a "Hague Convention Article 15 Petition asking the court "to expeditiously decide and determine, in accordance with the ... Hague Convention's provisions, and at the specific request of the District Court in Schleswig, Germany, whether the removal or retention of the parties' minor daughter, K.B., by respondent, Ulrike C. Berger, a/k/a Julie Berger, ... was wrongful within the meaning of Article 3 of the Hague Convention ...." Petitioner also filed a motion to expedite proceedings.

The court observed that it was in "a somewhat awkward position." The District Court in Schleswig, Germany, was scheduled to hold a hearing in this matter on October 23, 2012. Therefore, time was of the essence. Respondent, resided in the Federal Republic of Germany. Respondent had not yet been served, and the time for her to respond to the petition would be a date beyond October 23, 2012. The Court concluded that under the circumstances it should answer the question posed by the District Court in Schleswig, Germany. In doing it recognized that it had been denied the benefit of the adversary system that lies at the heart of the system of justice in the United States and without giving the Respondent notice or an opportunity to be heard, ruled in favor of Petitioner, giving Respondent 45 days after service of process upon her to move to rescind the order.

It ruled based upon the complaint and its attachments, Respondent's removal of K.B. from the child's habitual residence in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the United States of America, was wrongful within the meaning of Article 3 of the Hague Convention. For that reason it entered a judgment responding to the request made by the District Court in Schleswig, Germany that, based upon the information available Respondent's removal of K.B. from Montgomery County, Maryland, in the United States of America, to the Federal Republic of Germany was wrongful. The facts that lead to its conclusion were that Petitioner and Respondent, who were married to one another, were the parents of K.B., a five-year-old girl.. At the time of her removal, K.B.'s habitual residence was located in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the United States of America. Prior to her removal, Petitioner legally exercised his custodial rights by visiting K.B. and having regular telephonic and video conference and contact with her almost daily since the time that she was two years old. He also spent vacation time with K.B.  Petitioner did not consent to removal of K.B. from Montgomery County, Maryland to the Federal Republic of Germany. Under Maryland law, absent a court order to the contrary, parents are deemed to be joint natural guardians of their minor child and neither parent is presumed to have any right to custody that is superior to the right of the other parent.