In the Headlines
November 21, 2018

11th Circuit: Abduction Treaty Demands Return of Kids Taken From Panama

The appellate opinion said a federal judge in Florida abused her discretion in allowing a mother to keep her children in the United States after she had twice abducted them from Panama.
Daily Report

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has ordered that two children who were abducted by their mother be returned to their father. This decision reversed a trial judge's previous ruling that the twin boys should be allowed to stay with mother Christine Bailey, an American citizen, rather than having to resettle in their father Roque Fernandez's homeland of Panama.

According to the panel, the general "principle of return" under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction should have mandated that the children be returned to Panama after twice being abducted from their mother, who moved back to the United States after giving birth, forcing Mr. Fernandez into complicated custody negotiations.

Holland & Knight's Brett Barfield, Brandon Faulkner and Jennifer Lada represented Mr. Fernandez pro bono.

"We are very pleased with the ruling from the Eleventh Circuit," Mr. Faulkner told Daily Report. "This has been a long and exhausting battle for Mr. Fernandez as a father."

There is no doubt that these cases—international parental abductions—raise difficult issues for the trial courts, but the Eleventh Circuit's decision establishes a necessary precedent to deter cross-border kidnapping, and repeat offenses in particular," he added.

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