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Monday, December 4, 2017

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.

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