Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Recovery under the Hague Convention

Christian Nørgaard, a Danish computer science engineer was working in California when he met and married Tammy Zied, a software engineer. They married in Redwood City, California and had two daughters, Mia and Sarah, both born in California. The family moved to Germany then Denmark for Christian’s employment. 

While living in Denmark, the couple separated and in 2012, the Danish courts granted sole custody of both children to Christian. Tammy accused Christian of violence against her and the daughters. Mia began running away from Christian’s home, according to Tammy, to "escape the violence". Last May, Mia arrived in the United States and Sarah was left in Denmark with Christian. It is unclear whether Mia came to the United States with permission of Christian and was never returned, or whether Mia went to the United States without the consent of Christian and against the court order. 

According to an article published in the Copenhagen Post in August 19, 2013, Mia was reported as kidnapped to Interpol after Tammy failed to return her to Christian after an Easter visit. Tammy had told the police that Mia had run away and she didn’t know where she was. Police suspected that Tammy was hiding Mia and held her in custody for five days. When she was released, Tammy disappeared.

Mia and Tammy were living in Laguna Niguel. On January 31, 2014, the local authorities took Mia to a youth facility. Christian returned to California and Mia was returned to him a few days later. It appears that Mia is now with Christian and Sarah in Denmark.

Christian filed a Petition in Orange County under the Hague Convention and received assistance from the United States in the return of Mia to his custody.

Generally, exercising self-help in custody cases is not a good option. If faced with a similar situation or if you don't like the orders that are in place, the remedy would be to petition the court that made the orders, in this case Denmark, for a modification. Orders are binding and disobeying a court order or using self-help will make it more difficult to obtain custody or visitation in the future.

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