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Monday, October 22, 2012

Vujicevic v Vujicevic, 2012 WL 4948640 (S.D.N.Y.) [Croatia] [Federal & State Judicial Remedies] [Notice & Opportunity to Be Heard]

In Vujicevic v Vujicevic, 2012 WL 4948640 (S.D.N.Y.) Petitioner filed his Verified Petition for the Return of the Child to Croatia and his Petition for Warrant in Lieu of Writ
of Habeas Corpus on October 9, 2012. The docket sheet for the case indicated that
respondent had never been served. This lack of service was confirmed by an Affidavit of in support of the Petition for Warrant in Lieu of Writ of Habeas Corpus.

The district court observed that the United States Supreme Court has established that "[b]efore a federal court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the procedural requirement of service of summons must be satisfied." (Citing Omni Capital Int'l, Ltd. v. Rudolf Wolff & Co., 484 U.S. 97, 104 (1987). Service is also specifically required by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, ("ICARA"), which implemented the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Under ICARA, "[n]otice of an action brought under subsection (b) of this section shall be given in accordance with the applicable law governing notice in interstate child custody proceedings." (42 U.S.C. 11603(c)). In New York, the laws governing notice in interstate child custody proceedings are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA"), codified in Domestic Relations Law, §§75-78a and the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980, 28 U.S.C. § 1738A, 42 U.S.C. § 663 ("PKPA"). Both the UCCJEA and the PKPA require that, prior to any child custody determination, notice must be given to, inter alia,"any parent whose parental rights have not been previously terminated[ ] and any person having physical custody of the child." (Dom. Rel. Law § 76-d; 28 U.S.C. § 1738A(e). Accordingly, courts in this district deciding petitions under the Hague Convention have consistently required service on the respondent. [Citing Ebanks v. Ebanks, 2007 WL 2591196, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 6, 2007) (ruling that service was necessary for the Court to exercise personal jurisdiction and that petitioner was required to serve respondent in accordance with New York law)].

The District Court declined to grant the Petition for Warrant as it appeared that while the Court had subject matter jurisdiction over the case there was no personal jurisdiction over respondent absent proper service.