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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Judge v Williams, 2011 WL 3759476 (E.D.N.C.) [Ireland] [ Attorneys Fees and expenses]

In Judge v Williams, 2011 WL 3759476 (E.D.N.C.) the matter was before the court on Petitioner Brian Anthony Judge's Application for an award of Expenses following the court's order, after a hearing, directing the return of his minor child, E.L.W.J. to the Republic of Ireland. On August 4, 2011, Petitioner timely filed his Application for Award of Expenses, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 11607(b)(3), along with his affidavit and supporting documentation and an affidavit from his counsel.

The District Court observed that ICARA provides: Any court ordering the return of a child pursuant to an action brought under section 11603 of this title shall order the respondent to pay necessary expenses incurred by or on behalf of the petitioner, including court costs, legal fees, foster home or other care during the course of the proceedings in the action, and transportation costs related to the return of the child, unless the respondent establishes that such order would be clearly inappropriate. 42 U.S.C. 11067(b)(3). It concluded that under the plain language of the statute, the court had the duty to order the payment of necessary expenses and legal fees unless Respondent satisfied her burden of showing that such an order would be clearly inappropriate. In this case, Respondent, who appeared at the hearing without counsel, failed to offer any response, and therefore the court could not find that she had met her burden in establishing that an award of expenses to Petitioner was clearly inappropriate. Petitioner sought $3,974.86 for expenses incurred by him personally, and submitted an affidavit supported by receipts. His expenses included the costs Petitioner incurred flying to North Carolina and back to the Republic of Ireland along with the costs of his lodging in North Carolina ($2,648.63), the costs Petitioner incurred flying E.L.W.J. from North Carolina to the Republic of Ireland ($844.30), and the cost of Petitioner's rental car in North Carolina ($481.93). The court found all these expenses to be reasonable and necessarily related to Petitioner's efforts to have E.L.W.J. returned to the Republic of Ireland. Petitioner also sought $673.84 for expenses incurred on his behalf by the law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC . Petitioner's counsel represented Petitioner pro bono in this proceeding, and accordingly, Petitioner was not seeking attorney's fees. He was seeking the expenses WCSR incurred on his behalf, including the filing fee for this action ($350.00), the cost of photocopies ($64.10), and his counsel's travel expenses to attend the hearing ($259.74). Petitioner's counsel submitted an affidavit detailing those expenses. The court found the expenses were reasonable and were related to the return of E.L.W.J. Accordingly, the court found that the total amount of $4,648.70 in expenses incurred by Petitioner or on his behalf to be reasonable and necessary to his efforts to have his child returned to the Republic of Ireland.

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