United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge
Christian von Meer (“Petitioner”) filed a
Verified Petition for Return of Child Under the Hague
Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child
Abduction and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act
(22 U.S.C. § 9003(b)) on February 16, 2018. (Doc. 1.)
Mary Beth Hoselton (“Respondent”) filed her
Answer on February 27, 2018. (Doc. 17.) The Court held an
evidentiary hearing on March 1, 2018. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court will grant the Petition.
a German citizen and resident of Italy, and Respondent, a
United States citizen, were involved in a long term romantic
and domestic relationship from at the latest 2002 until
approximately 2006. Their union produced a child
(“N.V.”), who was born in Wangen, Germany in late
2002. N.V. holds both German and United States citizenship.
Petitioner, Respondent and N.V. lived together in Germany
until early 2004, when the three moved to Italy and lived
point in 2006, Petitioner and Respondent ended their domestic
relationship and began maintaining separate households, both
in the area of Florence, Italy. For approximately the next
ten years, they observed an informal shared custody regimen,
wherein N.V. would alternate living with each parent on a
weekly basis. This arrangement ended in the autumn of 2016,
when Respondent relocated to Arizona for work and to further
her education. At that time, N.V. remained in Italy with
Petitioner and continued attending the private school in
which she had previously been enrolled. No party presented
evidence that custody of N.V. had been adjudicated by any
tribunal or agency to this point.
December 21, 2016, several months after Respondent relocated
to Arizona, a judge of the Florence Court entered an order
granting Petitioner exclusive custody of N.V. (3/1/18 Hearing
Ex. 2.) The Florence Court found that Respondent
had personally received service of the custody petition but
did not appear or file any defensive brief. The Florence
Court made its order immediately enforceable.
April 2017, Petitioner bought a round-trip airline ticket for
N.V. to spend the summer with her mother in the United
States. In June 2017, when N.V. had completed her school year
in Florence, Petitioner flew with her from Europe to Las
Vegas to meet Respondent. Petitioner returned to Italy.
N.V.'s round-trip ticket bore a return date of August 16,
2017, shortly before her school would begin the new academic
had provided N.V. with a data-enabled cellular telephone so
she could communicate with either parent by voice or text
wherever she was. In July 2017, after N.V.'s
communications to her father had diminished and Petitioner
was unable to reach her on her phone, Petitioner's
attorney in Italy, Roberta Ceschini, began communicating with
Respondent via email to communicate Petitioner's
expectation that Respondent would return N.V. to Italy on the
August 16 flight. Ms. Ceschini advised Respondent that if she
did not return N.V. timely, Ceschini would file a petition
under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of
International Child Abduction (“Convention”).
Respondent acknowledged in a July 27, 2017 email to Ceschini
that “it was my understanding [N.V.] is to return in
August from the get go, ” but advised that N.V. did not
want to return to Italy, and that as N.V's mother,
“it is my duty to support and protect her.” (Ex.
did not return to Italy on August 16, 2017, or at any time
The Convention, ICARA and Legal Standards
Convention seeks “to deter parents from abducting their
children across national borders by limiting the main
incentive for international abduction-forum shopping of
custody disputes.” Cuellar v. Joyce, 596 F.3d
505, 508 (9th Cir. 2010). The court receiving a petition
under the Convention may not resolve the question of which
parent is best suited to have custody of the child.
Id. With a few narrow exceptions, which are
discussed below in relevant part, this Court must order a
child delivered to its country of habitual residence so that
the courts of that country can determine custody.
See id.; 22 U.S.C. § 9001(a)(4). Both the
United States and Italy are signatories to the Convention and
are Contracting States within its meaning. The United States
Congress has enacted the International Child Abduction
Remedies Act (“ICARA”) to implement the
Convention. 22 U.S.C. §§ 9001 et seq.
(formerly 42 U.S.C. §§ 11601 et seq.).
Convention identifies as its objectives: 1) securing the
prompt return of children wrongfully removed to, or retained
in, any Contracting State; and 2) ensuring that rights of
custody and access under the law of one Contracting State are
effectively respected in other Contracting States.
Convention, Arts. 1(a) & (b), 19 I.L.M. 1501. To those
ends, the Court shall return a minor child to its country of
habitual residence if the child was wrongfully removed from
that country or wrongfully retained outside of that country.
Convention, Art. 12.
removal or retention of a child is to be considered wrongful
a) it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a
person … under the law of the State in which the child
was habitually resident immediately before the removal or
b) at the time of removal or retention those rights were
actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have
been so exercised ...