Segal McCambridge Team Obtains Favorable Judgment in International Child Abduction Matter under the Hague Convention


July 9, 2014

In a recently issued decision following a July, 2013 evidentiary hearing, Segal McCambridge Chicago Shareholder Chad Layton and Chicago Associate Freddy Fonseca achieved a victory for their client, the Respondent in a Hague Convention matter.

The Petitioner and Respondent are the parents of two daughters, aged five and seven, born in Chicago, Illinois. The couple lived together sporadically until October 2010.  Then, Petitioner told Respondent that she and her family had to leave Illinois immediately due to threats made against Petitioner’s family.  The Respondent decided to leave Illinois with Respondent so that he could remain with his children.  At first, Petitioner told Respondent that they were going to California.  At some point during the trip, Petitioner told Respondent that they were, instead, going to Mexico.  Upon arriving out west, the girls spent time in Mexico and the U.S. in the San Diego/Tijuana area between October 2010 and the summer of 2012.  Respondent and the children left the San Diego/Tijuana area in August 2012 and have since lived in Waukegan, Illinois.

Petitioner, who remained in Mexico, brought an action under the Hague Convention, claiming that the Respondent had wrongfully removed the children from their residence in Mexico, even though the children had never permanently relocated to that country.  The court had to decide [] whether the children were wrongfully removed from Mexico or retained in the United States.  The court held a two-day evidentiary hearing, with Petitioner testifying via videoconference from Mexico.  The court sided with the Respondent, finding that there was no question that, from the time of their birth until October 2010, the girls – both of whom are United States citizens – were habitual residents of the U.S.  The court further concluded that, in October 2010, an unspecified emergency caused the Petitioner to leave her home even though she had no prior intention of ever leaving.  Respondent had no choice but to leave Illinois or risk the possibility of never seeing his daughters again.  The court further held that, while Respondent may have accompanied his daughters when they left Illinois, to ensure their safety and well-being, there is no evidence that the Petitioner and Respondent shared an intent that the girls’ habitual residence was to become Mexico.  Thus, the court found that Petitioner failed to sustain her burden of proof, and denied her petition.  As a result, Respondent is able to keep his daughters in Illinois.

Mr. Layton is a trial attorney and litigation partner with extensive experience handling products liability, commercial litigation, transportation, and other litigation matters. He has represented clients all over the country.

Mr. Fonseca  is a litigation attorney who focuses his practice on toxic tort, commercial, insurance, product liability,  and warranty matters. He also actively volunteers with  Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and the National Immigrant Justice Center.