The International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAML) has intervened in an international child abduction case currently before the US Supreme Court.
The academy’s members include family lawyers from 45 different countries. It has filed an ‘amicus curiae’ (friend of court) brief in the case of Lozano v Alvarez. When a person or organisation files an amicus brief, they are submitting information or views to the court, input which may help a decision to be reached or which may influence the verdict.
Lozano v Alvarez concerns a couple of Columbian origin who met in London and began a relationship. They had a child together but the relationship was reportedly troubled and the child had emotional issues. In 2008 Alvarez left the couple’s home, reportedly without telling her partner where she was going. She lived in a woman’s shelter before leaving the country and moving to New York the following year to live with her sister.
Eventually Lozano located his former partner and child, and filed a petition in the US for his child to be brought back to London under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which governs the return of children taken from one participating country into another by one parent. He wanted an English court to rule on who his child should live with.
Unfortunately, more than a year had now passed since his ex-partner’s departure. Courts within countries which have signed the Convention are only obliged to return children if the other parent files within a year of their departure. His legal team has therefore argued that the one year requirement should be ‘tolled’ (suspended) during the time his former partner had kept the whereabouts of the child secret.
It is this aspect of the case which has been escalated to the Supreme Court.
To quote the IAML:
“Our Amicus Committee supports the principle of tolling. Our Brief suggests one of two alternatives for the Court to consider regarding one year period. The IAML suggests that courts should either adopt the provisions of the 1996 Hague Convention on Parental Responsibiity and Protection of Children, which provides a one year period from the date when the concealed child is located, or one year from the date when the child could have been located; or, alternatively, to hold that in cases of concealment, the filling of an application with the Central Authority commences the action. It was appropriate for us to convey our concerns and thoughts to the United States Supreme Court.”
The Supreme Court is due to hear the case in December.