Canadian Judge Rules Child Not Required to Return to Father in U.S. after Mother’s Abduction to Canada, Finds Hague Convention Exception Applies
A Canadian court issued a perhaps surprising ruling this year that demonstrates the complexities of the Hague Convention and the exceptions under the law for the return of a child to the child’s home country after being abducted by a non-custodial parent. In the case of Harley v. Harley, filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the court held in favor of a mother who abducted her son from his home and father in Ohio, for a life in Ontario with his grandparents.
According to Law Times News and the court record, on June 17, 2022, mother Christine Suzana Harley drove from Newton Falls, Ohio, across the American-Canadian border to Windsor Ontario with her young son. The child’s father, David John Harley V, brought a lawsuit under the Hague Convention in Ontario Superior Court for the return of his son, alleging that the child’s “habitual residence” was, in fact, Newton Falls, Ohio. David Harley further alleged that the child’s mother did not meet any exceptions in the Hague Convention that would prevent the return of the child to Newton Falls.
Ultimately, while the Ontario court did find that the child was abducted without David Harley’s knowledge, it also found that the case met the high threshold required for exception 13(b) of the Hague Convention, “that there would be a grave risk that the return of the child would expose him to physical or psychological harm, or otherwise place him in an intolerable situation.” In its findings, the court determined that David Harley had created a home environment that was abusive to the young boy, including forcing him to do demeaning and psychologically damaging chores around the house, installing video and audio surveillance in the home, and engaging in manipulation and abuse against the young boy and his mother. The court further found that the young boy was intelligent and, at 12 years old, mature enough that the court should consider his own objection to returning to his father’s home in Newton Falls. Thus, the court held that “The Article 13(b) exception does apply…the child would face grave risk of being exposed to physical or psychological harm or otherwise be placed in an intolerable position if returned to Ohio…the child objects to being returned and has attained an age and a degree of maturing at which it is appropriate to take account of his views.”
Legal Help for Parents of Abducted Children in Chicago
As Harley v. Harley demonstrates, the Hague Convention is very complex. Parents who seek to exercise their rights under the Hague Convention after the abduction of a child should seek legal assistance as soon as possible after the abduction has occurred. If you are in the Chicago area and are seeking the assistance of an experienced Chicago international family law Hague Convention lawyer, contact the experienced lawyers at the law firm Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC. The experienced Chicago international family law Hague Convention lawyers at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC offer a confidential consultation to learn about your case and to see if they can help. Contact Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC and speak to a lawyer about your rights and options today.