New York Matrimonial Trial Handbook

The New York Matrimonial Trial Handbook by Joel R. Brandes is available in Bookstores and online in the print edition at the Bookbaby Bookstore, Amazon Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and other online book sellers. It is also available in Kindle ebook editions and epub ebook editions for all ebook readers in our website bookstore. The New York Matrimonial Trial Handbook is divided into five parts: (1) Preliminary Matters Prior to the Commencement of Trial, Conduct of Trial and Rules of Evidence Particularly Applicable in Matrimonial Matters; (2); Establishing Grounds for Divorce, Separation and Annulment and Defenses; (3) Obtaining Maintenance, Child Support, Exclusive Occupancy and Counsel Fees; (4) Property Distribution and Evidence of Value; and (5) Trial of a Custody Case. There are thousands of suggested questions for the examination and cross-examination of witnesses dealing with very aspect of the matrimonial trial. Click on this link for more information about the contents of the book and on this link for the complete table of contents.

The New York Matrimonial Trial Handbook was reviewed by Bernard Dworkin, Esq., in the New York Law Journal on December 21, 2017. His review is reprinted on our website at http://www.nysdivorce.com with the permission of the New York Law Journal.

Joel R. Brandes, is the author of Law and The Family New York, 2d (9 volumes) (Thomson Reuters), and Law and the Family New York Forms (5 volumes) (Thomson Reuters). Law and the Family New York, 2d is a treatise and a procedural guide. Volume 4A of the treatise contains more than 950 pages devoted to an analysis of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act. It contains a complete discussion of the cases construing the Convention which have been decided by the United States Supreme Court, the Circuit Courts of Appeal, the District Courts, and the New York Courts.


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Monday, December 4, 2017

Marks v. Hochhauser 2017 WL 5760345 (2d Cir., 2017) [Thailand] [Federal & State Judicial Remedies] [Retention] [Accession]



          In Marks v. Hochhauser 2017 WL 5760345 (2d Cir., 2017) the Second Circuit held that for purposes of the Convention  “retention” is a singular and not a continuing act; and that the Convention does not enter into force until a ratifying state accepts an acceding state's accession.

          The parties were American citizens who were living in Hong Kong when their three sons were born, one in 2002 and twins in 2005. In July 2005, the parties and the children relocated to Bangkok, Thailand. In August 2015, Marks and Hochhauser were divorced, in Thailand, and the divorce judgment granted Hochhauser sole custody of the Children. On September 18, 2015, Hochhauser and the Children traveled to the United States to visit Hochhauser’s ill mother. Before their departure, Hochhauser represented to Marks and the Thai court that she and the Children would stay in New York for three weeks and then return to Thailand on October 10, 2015. On October 7, 2015, Hochhauser sent Marks an email as follows: “I have made the decision to remain in the United States with the boys. It is clear to me now that there is no workable solution for us to live in Thailand. This decision was based upon trying to build a future for both myself and them, not out of any anger toward you about the past or any desire to exclude you from their lives. The boys need you to continue to be an important part of their lives and I will do as much as I can to facilitate that. Hopefully we can find a way to build a working relationship for their benefit.” On January 25, 2016, the Thai Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s judgment in part and held that Marks and Hochhauser “shall exercise joint custody of all of their three minor children.”  

          Marks filed a petition for the return of the Children to Thailand on September 9, 2016, within one year of the date Hochhauser advised Marks that she and the Children would not be returning to Thailand. Hochhauser moved to dismiss the petition, arguing, inter alia, that any wrongful retention of the Children took place prior to the Convention’s entry into force between the United States and Thailand. The district court granted the motion to dismiss the petition. It first concluded that “retention” is a singular and not a continuing act and that the singular act here occurred on October 7, 2015, when Hochhauser sent her email to Marks advising that she and the Children were not returning to Thailand. It then concluded that the Convention did not enter into force between the United States and Thailand until April 2016, after the United States accepted Thailand’s accession to the Convention. The district court held that the retention occurred before the Convention entered into force between the two countries and entered judgment on November 7, 2016, granting the motion to dismiss the petition.

          The Second Circuit affirmed. It agreed with the district court that “retention” for these purposes is a singular and not a continuing act. It concluded that the Convention contemplates that “retention” occurs on a fixed date. Here, that date was October 7, 2015, when Hochhauser advised Marks that she would not be returning with the Children to Thailand.

          The Second Circuit observed that Article 35 of the Convention provides that it “shall apply as between Contracting States only to wrongful removals or retentions occurring after its entry into force in those States.” Convention, art. 35. Hence, if the removal or retention occurs before the Convention has entered into force between two States, the Convention does not apply.

          The Court noted that the Convention does not define “Contracting State,” but Articles 37 and 38 provide two separate procedures for countries to accept the Convention. Under Article 37, “[t]he Convention shall be open for signature by the States which were Members of the Hague Conference of Private International Law [the ‘CPIL’] at the time of its Fourteenth Session.” Convention, art. 37. Once a State signs, the Convention must be “ratified, accepted or approved and the instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval” must be deposited with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. Convention, art. 37. Article 38 provides an acceptance procedure for states that were not members of the CPIL at the time of its fourteenth session. In lieu of ratification, these states may “accede” to the Convention. Article 38 explains that: Any other State may accede to the Convention. ... The accession will have effect only as regards the relations between the acceding State and such Contracting States as will have declared their acceptance of the accession. ... The Convention will enter into force as between the acceding State and the State that has declared its acceptance of the accession on the first day of the third calendar month after the deposit of the declaration of acceptance. Convention, art. 38. As Article 38 makes clear, accession requires the acceptance of other states before the Convention “will enter into force,” i.e., the accession has effect only as to Contracting States that “have declared their acceptance of the accession.” Id.

          At the time the Convention was opened for signature, the United States was a member of the CPIL and Thailand was not. The United States signed the Convention in 1981 and ratified it, thereby becoming a Contracting State, in 1988, and the Convention entered into force in the United States on July 1, 1988. See Contracting State Status Table; Souratgar, 720 F.3d at 102 n.5. Thailand acceded to the Convention, pursuant to Article 38, on August 14, 2002, and it entered into force in Thailand on November 1, 2002. Id.  The United States accepted Thailand’s accession to the Convention on January 26, 2016. See Acceptances of Accessions: Thailand, Hague Conference on Private International Law, https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/status-table/acceptances/?mid=670 (last visited Sept. 26, 2017) (“Acceptances of Accessions Table”). The first day of the third calendar month after the United States accepted Thailand’s accession was April 1, 2016. See id.; Convention, art. 38.


          The Court then held that the Convention does not enter into force until a ratifying state accepts an acceding state's accession and that Article 35 limits the Convention's application to removals and retentions taking place after the Convention has entered into force between the two states involved. Therefore, because the Convention did not enter into force between the United States and Thailand until April 1, 2016, after the allegedly wrongful retention of the children in New York on October 7, 2015, the Convention did not apply to petitioner's claim.

Taglieri v. Monasky ,2017 WL 5895196 (6th Cir., 2017) [Italy] [Habitual Residence][Grave Risk of Harm] [Petition granted]



          In Taglieri v. Monasky, 2017 WL 5895196 (6th Cir., 2017) the Sixth Circuit held that where a child lives exclusively in one country, that country is presumed to be the child’s habitual residence. In this case the country of habitual residence was Italy and that there was no grave risk of harm to the child under the meaning of the Convention. It affirmed the district court’s judgment ordering the return of A.M.T. to Italy under the Hague Convention.

          Taglieri, a citizen of Italy, was studying in Chicago when he met Monasky, an American citizen. They married and decided to move to Italy. Taglieri was licensed to practice medicine in Italy. Monasky had a fellowship in Milan. Monasky became pregnant. Monasky alleged that Taglieri was sexually abusive and frequently hit her. Monasky encountered professional difficulties and did not speak much Italian. Monasky applied for jobs in the U.S., contacted divorce lawyers, and researched American childcare options.  After an argument, Monasky took baby A, sought refuge in a safe house, and left Italy with eight-week-old A. Taglieri obtained the termination of Monasky’s parental rights in Italy, and Taglieri filed a petition in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on May 14, 2015, seeking the return of his daughter to Italy pursuant to the Convention. The district court held a four-day trial in March 2016. In an order issued six months later, the district court granted Taglieri’s petition for the return of A.M.T. to Italy, to be accomplished within forty-five days.

          The Sixth Circuit affirmed. It found that Taglieri had established that A.M.T. was removed in breach of the law of the State in which she was habitually resident. It noted that Simcox and Friedrich I stand for the proposition that when a child has lived exclusively in one country, that country is presumed to be the child’s habitual residence. In Robert v. Tesson, 507 F.3d (6th Cir. 2007), it held that “a child’s habitual residence is the nation where, at the time of their removal, the child has been present long enough to allow acclimatization, and where this presence has a ‘degree of settled purpose from the child’s perspective.’ ” In Ahmed v. Ahmed, 867 F.3d 682 (6th Cir. 2017), a case involving very young children traveling between nations it  concluded that, under those circumstances, a court may determine a very young child’s habitual residence by considering the “shared parental intent” of where the parents last mutually intended the child to live. The Court indicated that it uses three distinct standards to determine a child’s habitual residence under the Convention. In cases where the child has resided exclusively in a single country, that country is the child’s habitual residence. But when the child has alternated residences between two or more nations, the analysis is more complicated. In such cases, it begins by applying the acclimatization standard. If that test supports the conclusion that a particular country is the child’s habitual residence, then that is the end of the analysis. But if the case cannot be resolved through application of the acclimatization standard, such as those cases that involve “especially young children who lack the cognizance to acclimate to any residence,” it then considers the shared parental intent of the child’s parents.

A straightforward application of precedent compelled the conclusion that the habitual residence of A.M.T. was Italy. A.M.T. was born in Italy and resided there exclusively until Monasky took A.M.T. to the United States in April 2015.  It rejected Monasky’s argument that the opinion in Ahmed required a different result. Ahmed spoke broadly about young children, but it dealt specifically with the application of the acclimatization standard, which both Robert and Simcox recognized as difficult to apply in cases of small children. Robert made clear that the acclimatization test did not apply to children who had remained in one nation; rather, that test “should apply when a child has alternated residences between two or more nations.” Ahmed’s adoption of a shared-parental-intent standard made such intent relevant only in those cases where the acclimatization standard both applies and fails. Ahmed did not modify or displace the alternative standard and guidance that Friedrich I and Simcox provided for children with exclusively one country of residence. Robert and Ahmed dealt with one situation, while Friedrich I and (in part) Simcox dealt with another. This was not a case where “a child has alternated residences between two or more nations,” the situation that Robert’s acclimatization test was crafted to address and the one that faced the Ahmed panel. Prior to the removal, A.M.T. never was outside of Italy. “Where a child has remained in one place for its entire life, that place is the expected location where it may be found and may be considered its residence. Thus, A.M.T.’s habitual residence was the country from which she was taken, Italy.1


          The district court found Monasky’s testimony with respect to the domestic and sexual abuse against her to be credible. But the court also observed that “the frequency with which Taglieri subjected Monasky to physical violence and severity of the physical violence is unclear,” and found that there was “no evidence to suggest that Taglieri was ever physically violent towards A.M.T.” The first half of the exception makes plain that the risk of physical or psychological harm is directed to the child. Chief Judge Oliver found that the frequency and severity of violence to Monasky were unclear, and that there was no evidence that violence was ever directed at A.M.T. The facts, while demonstrating that Taglieri engaged in appalling and justly censurable activity, did not “show that the risk to the child is grave, not merely serious.” Friedrich II, 78 F.3d at 1068 (quoting Public Notice 957, 51 Fed. Reg. 10494, 10510 (Mar. 26, 1986)). As a result, Monasky failed to meet her burden to show by clear and convincing evidence that a grave risk of harm to A.M.T. exists or that there is a grave risk that A.M.T. would be placed in an intolerable situation.