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Friday, March 4, 2022

Recent Hague Convention District Court Cases - Colchester v. Lazaro, 2022 WL 621536 (W.D. Washington, 2022)

Colchester v. Lazaro, 2022 WL 621536 (W.D. Washington, 2022) 
[Spain] [After trial, the District Court  ordered S.L.C. returned to Spain.The Ninth Circuit reversed in October 2021. It held the Court abused its discretion by denying Respondent the opportunity to develop her defense of domestic abuse by having S.L.C. evaluated by a psychologist. Colchestr v. Lazaro, 16 F.4th 712, 723 (9th Cir. 2021).It also held the Court’s findings and conclusions were inadequate because they did not discuss Respondent’s defense and merely adopted Petitioner’s proposed findings verbatim. The Ninth Circuit found the trial had been “fundamentally unfair” and remanded for a new trial and the appointment of a psychologist to examine S.L.C. After S.L.C. returned to Spain, and while the appeal was pending, the Spanish custody order was modified, in July 2021. Under the current order, Petitioner had custody and Respondent has visitation rights, but visitation must occur in Spain. Respondent may not bring S.L.C. outside of Spain without Petitioner’s consent. Petitioner and S.L.C. resided in Barcelona. Respondent lived in Washington but goes to Spain for one week each month for her visitation. Petitioner argued this case was moot because the relief he sought in the petition, return of S.L.C. to Spain and his custody, has been achieved. The only relief available to Respondent, , is an order denying the petition by way of proving her grave-risk defense. The Court rejected his argument and set the case down for trial. The Ninth Circuit remanded for a psychological exam and trial. Dismissing this case as moot would be inconsistent with that mandate. The fact that S.L.C. returned to Spain does not alter the analysis, because the Ninth Circuit was well aware of that fact. In addition, dismissing based on mootness would render appellate review ineffective.]