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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Dias v. De Souza, 2016 WL 4083354 (D. Mass, 2016)[Brazil [Petition granted ] [Grave Risk of Harm Defense Not Established]

In Dias v. De Souza, 2016 WL 4083354 (D. Mass, 2016) Marina De Aguiar Dias (“Petitioner”) the mother sought the return of her thirteen-year-old daughter, H.D., to Brazil. Petitioner and Respondent,  an unmarried couple,  separated approximately three years after H.D.’s birth., Petitioner and H.D. lived together in a house located in the Water Box  neighborhood of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, which they shared with Petitioner’s parents and grandmother. In May 2013 Respondent moved to Massachusetts.  On June 13, 2015, accompanied by Respondent’s mother and with Petitioner’s permission, H.D. left Brazil to temporarily visit Respondent in Worcester, Massachusetts. On June 18, 2016, Respondent and his mother called Petitioner and asked for her permission to keep H.D. in the United States. Petitioner declined to give her permission, but Respondent nevertheless kept H.D. in the United States over Petitioner’s objection. The district court found that Petitioner established a prima facie case and that Respondent failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that H.D.’s return would subject her to a grave risk of harm or otherwise place her in an intolerable situation. Respondent testified that areas “around” the Red River neighborhood where H.D. would return were extremely dangerous and controlled by drug traffickers, but did not demonstrate that H.D. would face a grave risk of harm due to the violence in those areas. Respondent testified that he believed H.D., while not in school, would spend the majority of her time inside her house if she were to return to Brazil, and Petitioner likewise testified that when H.D. previously lived in Brazil, she was not allowed to walk outside without adult supervision.  Petitioner’s husband testified that the house to which H.D. would return was located in a calm, middle-class neighborhood, and this testimony was uncontroverted by Respondent’s testimony, which focused on slum neighborhoods “around” the Red River area. Respondent also failed to show that H.D.’s living conditions in Salvador would constitute a grave risk of physical or psychological harm or lead to an otherwise intolerable situation. Respondent’s claim that H.D.’s return to Brazil would result in a grave risk of harm or an otherwise intolerable situation due to isolation also failed. It was  undisputed that H.D. would attend school outside of her house, and Petitioner testified that the school which H.D. would attend offered extracurricular activities, including athletics. Living in Salvador with Petitioner may reduce or even eliminate H.D.’s freedom to walk in the street unaccompanied by an adult, but an “intolerable situation was not meant to encompass return to a home where living conditions are less palatable,” and the situation envisioned by Respondent—where H.D. would spend most of her free time at home watching television and playing video games—does not approach a showing of “clear abuse.”

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