Via Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

The Hague Convention is an international treaty which provides a method for resolving the return of abducted children between member nations. Because it is an international treaty, all Hague Convention cases must be decided in federal court. Additionally, Hague Convention cases can require divorce and/or custody to be obtained in state courts, making them complicated matters for the most experienced attorneys, much less HLAB student attorneys.

In September 2015, Diane Ramirez ’17 and Katie Renzler ’16 met their client, who had a Hague Convention dispute with the father of her children. The father is an Irish national, and wanted the children returned to him. After months of pre-trial motions and negotiations with opposing counsel from major law firms, the case culminated in a three-day trial in federal court in February 2016. Diane and Katie directed witnesses, cross-examined witnesses for the father, and presented evidence to support their argument that the federal judge should reject the father’s petition asking for the return of the children to Ireland.

In the summer of 2016, the judge issued the final ruling: the father’s petition was denied. The advocacy did not stop after this federal court victory. Diane continued to represent the mother in her divorce matter in state court, and obtained a judgement in October 2016 of divorce and an order granting her primary physical custody of her children and child support. Diane also negotiated a parenting time schedule that allowed the children to periodically visit their father in Ireland. Once again, HLAB student attorneys obtained a successful outcome for their client in the face of complicated litigation.