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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Rose v Blake, 2017 WL 3601292 (S.D. Florida, 2017)[Belgium][Habitual Residence] [Petition granted]

          In Rose v Blake, 2017 WL 3601292 (S.D. Florida, 2017) a petition was filed by  Damion Samuel Rose, a legal resident of Belgium, to secure the return of his six-year-old son, D.A.R., who was, removed from Belgium and brought Florida by the Child’s Mother, Lee Ann Nicole Blake (“Ms. Blake”). The district court found that the Petitioner was domiciled in Belgium. The parties met in Jamaica and had a relationship of which a child, D.A.R., was born in New York on January 17, 2011.  The parties separated in 2013 and Ms. Blake subsequently settled in the United States for a few months with the child.  Afterwards, Ms. Blake returned to Jamaica, where the applicant asked her to organize the living arrangements of the child in order to enable him to spend some time with his son despite their separation, which Ms. Blake refused.  In 2014, Mr. Rose moved to Belgium and the parties reached a verbal agreement, so as to enable D.A.R. to spend holidays with his father.  On the agreed date however, Ms. Blake opposed the child’s stay in Belgium and threatened to deprive Mr. Rose of any contact with the child if she was not authorized to stay with him in Belgium. In 2014, Ms. Blake and D.A.R. settled in Belgium and the parties decided to give themselves a chance to live together again. On February 10, 2015, they concluded a declaration of legal cohabitation, to which they have not put an end. A few months later, the couple separated again. A verbal agreement was reached according to which the child would have his residence with his mother two weeks per month, including the weekends, and with his father one week per month and two weekends.  Since Ms. Blake could scarcely comply with this agreement, Mr. Rose submitted a request to the Family Court aiming at obtaining a decision on parental responsibility. Ms. Blake informed the Plaintiff on several occasions that she intended to return to Jamaica with the child. The Plaintiff opposed such intention. Both parties and their lawyers agreed to meet on April 24, 2017 prior to the hearing scheduled on May 3, 2017 before the Brussels Family Court. On April 24, 2017 Ms. Blake’s lawyer informed the Mr. Rose’s attorney that Ms. Blake could not be present because she was in the United States with the child, but would be returning. Ms. Blake and the Child did not return on the expected date and the plaintiff did not receive any news of his son since July 22, 2017. Ms. Blake and D.A.R. reside at her cousin’s domicile in Davie, Florida. Subsequent to the removal of the Child by the mother, the Belgium Court issued an Order placing sole custody in the father, Damion Samuel Rose.

          The district court held a hearing and credited the Plaintiff’s testimony. It rejected the Defendant’s testimony and rejected the assertions of the Defendant set forth in her Response to the Verified Complaint and Petition. Because the Court found that Belgium was the habitual residence of the Child, that the Plaintiff never acquiesced in the removal of the Child, that there was no danger to the Child if he is returned to Belgium, and that the Respondent has failed to show cause why the child should not be returned to Belgium, it granted the Petition and directed that the Child be returned to Belgium in the custody of the father.

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