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Case Update: International Adoption, Hague Adoption Convention, Central Authority Guidance

The National Council for Adoption sued the U.S. government over certain written guidance developed by the U.S. Department of State for Adoption Service Providers (ASPs) under the Intercountry Adoption Act, which is the U.S. federal implementing legislation for the Hague Adoption Convention.  (National Council for Adoption v. Pompeo, Civil No. 18-2704(RCL), 5/19/2020)
The relevant government agency in the child’s country of origin bears the ultimate responsibility for making a “referral” of a child to be placed with a particular family for adoption.  The adoption community, however, has also coined the term “soft referral” to refer to unofficial referrals or a matching process between child and family.  These soft referrals typically occur when prospective parents are matched with a child before the child is confirmed eligible for adoption or before the parents complete the lengthy required home study. 
The NCFA filed the instant case challenging written guidance by the U.S. Departmen…

Case Update: UCCJEA, Registration of Foreign Custody Order, Requirement of a Certified Copy

A parent can obtain a child-custody order from a foreign country, in substantial conformity with the jurisdictional provisions of the UCCJEA, and that child-custody order may then be registered in a U.S. state so that enforcement of it can be sought.  
In the case of Hamdan v. Freitekh, (Case No. COA19-929) the Court of Appeals of North Carolina vacated its trial court’s registration and subsequent enforcement of a Shar'ia custody order, obtained from the Shar'ia Court of Jerusalem by a Father after the parties’ children were removed from Ramallah and unilaterally relocated to North Carolina.  The father failed to meet the stringent requirements in the UCCJEA of what paperwork must be filed in order to seek registration of the Shar'ia custody order, specifically, he did not provide a certified copy of the custody order. 
Citing to N.C. Gen. Stat. 50A-305, which are the UCCJEA’s registration provisions, “the out-of-state child-custody determination may be registered for en…

Case Update: 1980 Convention, Federal vs. State Court, Abstention Doctrine

The U.S. District Court issued a new order on May 18, 2020 in the Barron v. Kendall case related to the issue of abstention in a Hague Abduction return proceeding simultaneously before the state courts and the federal courts. 
In this case, the father allegedly abducted the parties’ 5-year-old child from Mexico to San Diego, California, where, about one week later, he filed for custody.  He was granted temporary emergency custody. The mother appeared in the custody case in February 2020 and requested that the family court return the child to Mexico.  The judge denied the mother’s request, but set in, sua sponte, the case for a “Hague Status hearing” despite the fact that no petition was filed requesting that the child be returned to Mexico using the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention.  At the status hearing, the judge set in a trial date on the Hague Abduction issue, but it was continued, and continued again, due to court closures related to COVID-19.  As of the federal court’s May 18, …

Case Update: Consular Report of Birth Abroad and minor child's U.S. passport application

A minor child born overseas to U.S. parents is eligible for U.S. citizenship if the requirements outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) are met.   The parents must request a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) as evidence of the citizenship before the child’s 18th birthday from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, and, if the child will be traveling, simultaneously request a U.S. passport and social security number.  The consular officer at the embassy or consulate is responsible for adjudicating a U.S. citizenship claim for applicants seeking a CRBA.  It will include an assessment of the validity of the citizenship claim, a review of the evidence of the child and parents’ identities, and evidence of citizenship.  (see 7 FAM 1441.3) 
In the Sabra v. Pompeo case, (No. 19-cv-2090) Baby M is the subject of a request for a CRBA and a U.S. Passport.  Baby M was born in a home-birth to 46-year-old Mrs. Sabra, a U.S. citizen who was living in Gaza.  Baby M’s father is a …

Case Update: Distinction between Child Support Jurisdiction and Custody Jurisdiction

In Tompkins v. Tompkins, (2020 Ark. App. 122 (Ark. App. 2020), the Arkansas Court of Appeals, Division IV, made certain that the parties understood the distinction between custody jurisdiction under the UCCJEA and child support jurisdiction under UIFSA.  
The minor child had been residing in Germany with her mother for some time prior to the filing of a divorce action in Arkansas, where the father was a bona fide resident.  Everyone acknowledged that the custody matters must be brought in Germany, which, at the time, was the minor child’s “home state” under the UCCJEA.  At the trial, however, the mother requested child support from the father, and the trial court denied her request, accepting the father’s lawyer’s references to the UCCJEA and “the Hague Convention” (presumably referencing the Hague Child Abduction Convention).  Neither the UCCJEA nor the Hague Abduction Convention have any relevance to child support.  The appellate court corrected the misunderstanding, and cited to t…