Monday, May 17, 2010

Welcome home, girls.

As you may have noticed, we handle many international cases and many of those cases are custody cases invoking the Hague Convention. 

The Hague Convention I'm referring to pertains to international jurisdiction over children in custody disputes.  It most often is used when a spouse flees with the children to another country.  Nation states that are signatories to the Hague have treaty obligations to each other to accept pre-determined standards to confer jurisdiction.

My firm has a wonderful track record on Hague cases.  We have excellent working relationships with other attorneys across the globe and probably more international family law experience than any other Atlanta firm.

The case I'm writing about tonight just had a major development today. 

We represent the father, who is American born but his parents are originally from Greece.  The mother is from Cyprus.  The parties take an annual vacation to Cyprus to visit the mother's parents and siblings.  In the summer of 2008, the parties had their second daughter.  Their oldest daughter was then four.  In September, as in year's past, the parties flew to Cyprus.

When it came time to return, the mother said that neither she nor the girls were coming home.  The mother stated that it had nothing to do with the father, she just hated Georgia in general and Cherokee County in particular.  The father tried to run with the girls a few days later, but was physically stopped by the mother's brothers at the airport.

When the father returned home, he hired us.  We filed a divorce and Hague action in Cherokee County before the Honorable Jackson Harris.  The mother went to ground in Cyprus and hid out for months.  We pursued the Hague action internationally, getting the State Department on board and then getting the action moving in Cyprus.  The mother was finally found and served in Cyprus about a year after she had fled.

Cyprus held its trial over the course of a month in March and April of this year.  Our office was fortunate enough to be a part of the Cyprus trial team each day as the strategy was developed and the questions were prepared.

On May 4, Cyprus gave us her ruling.  The mother must return with the children to Woodstock, Georgia, by Friday, May 7.

On May 7, the children arrived at Hartsfield and the father met the plane.  The mother was still acting as though she could control the courts so she quickly hurried the children off.  We soon got beyond that barrier and, after an afternoon long visitation yesterday, the father got to take the girls home today. 

Fortunately for me, the father was kind enough to stop by my office so that the staff and I could see the girls and weep for joy at their safe return.  Seeing those girls beem at their daddy was one of the most satisfying moments I have had in my career.  And I'm here to tell you I've had many satisfying moments in my career.

There are still some battles to be fought in this matter, all safely here at home.  But for now, all is right with the world. 

Welcome home, girls.

Michael Manely

1 comment:

  1. Very nice. I'm sure with many of your cases, the outcome isn't always "happy," even if you win the case. This had to have been a very special moment!