Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

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J.B., a U.S. citizen, was born in Ukraine in 2008 to Charles, a U.S. citizen, and Olga, a Ukrainian citizen and lawful U.S. permanent resident. In 2011, Charles secured a job in Germany; Olga was accepted to a Ph.D. program at the University of Pittsburgh. Olga and J.B. moved to Pittsburgh, separately from Charles. In 2013, J.B. underwent surgery. Charles went to Pittsburgh to be with J.B. He unsuccessfully sought jobs in the U.S. The three then went to Germany. In 2015, Olga returned to Pittsburgh to complete her Ph.D. program, taking J.B. The parties agreed to divorce. Charles sent an email, indicating that he might move to another country. Olga responded that J.B. was happy in Pittsburgh, so by the end of the year, returning to Berlin might not be his wish. Charles did not object. In 2016, the parties exchanged emails indicating that they may have previously agreed that J.B. would live with each for a year at a time. A Pennsylvania court issued an interim custody order, allowing J.B. to continue to reside with the Olga. Charles sought J.B.’s return to Germany under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. The Third Circuit affirmed denial of relief. To the extent an agreement could be discerned, the parents’ intent was that J.B. would move to the U.S. not for a visit, but with a settled purpose. Because J.B. had acclimatized to his life in the U.S. at the time of the retention, that was then his habitual residence and the retention was not wrongful under the Convention. View "Blackledge v. Blackledge" on Justia Law

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J.B., a U.S. citizen, was born in Ukraine in 2008 to Charles, a U.S. citizen, and Olga, a Ukrainian citizen and lawful U.S. permanent resident. In 2011, Charles secured a job in Germany; Olga was accepted to a Ph.D. program at the University of Pittsburgh. Olga and J.B. moved to Pittsburgh, separately from Charles. In 2013, J.B. underwent surgery. Charles went to Pittsburgh to be with J.B. He unsuccessfully sought jobs in the U.S. The three then went to Germany. In 2015, Olga returned to Pittsburgh to complete her Ph.D. program, taking J.B. The parties agreed to divorce. Charles sent an email, indicating that he might move to another country. Olga responded that J.B. was happy in Pittsburgh, so by the end of the year, returning to Berlin might not be his wish. Charles did not object. In 2016, the parties exchanged emails indicating that they may have previously agreed that J.B. would live with each for a year at a time. A Pennsylvania court issued an interim custody order, allowing J.B. to continue to reside with the Olga. Charles sought J.B.’s return to Germany under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. The Third Circuit affirmed denial of relief. To the extent an agreement could be discerned, the parents’ intent was that J.B. would move to the U.S. not for a visit, but with a settled purpose. Because J.B. had acclimatized to his life in the U.S. at the time of the retention, that was then his habitual residence and the retention was not wrongful under the Convention. View "Blackledge v. Blackledge" on Justia Law

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In 2014, father had partial custody of S.H.; S.H. accused mother of abuse and fled from her home to father. Father sought a temporary order of full custody. A Pennsylvania judge granted mother emergency custody. S.H. was referred to Centre County’s Children and Youth Services (CYS) because of the abuse allegations. CYS concluded that the allegation did not meet the definition of child abuse but continued its investigation, giving S.H. the option of moving into a group home or remaining with his mother. S.H. did not want to stay with her. Mother arranged for S.H. to stay in Youth Haven and objected to any contact with father, claiming that she had sole custody. CYS and Youth Haven allowed contact. After a visit, father complained about Youth Haven, which told CYS that S.H. could not stay due to problems with father. CYS informed father that he could no longer contact S.H. at Youth Haven. Hamilton filed a federal suit, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that conspiracy to deprive him of his constitutional rights by “placing S.H. in a shelter tantamount to confinement” and “arbitrarily and capriciously terminating all paternal visits and contact.” While that case progressed, S.H. left Youth Haven. A new Pennsylvania judge vacated the prior emergency custody order, granted father physical custody of S.H., and prohibited contact between S.H. and mother. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal, finding that the case was mooted when father obtained custody. View "Hamilton v. Bromley" on Justia Law

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The fathers of minor children in New Jersey challenged the state law governing child custody proceedings between New Jersey parents. In a suit against state court judges, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, they argued that the “best interests of the child” standard that New Jersey courts use to determine custody in a dispute between two fit parents is unconstitutional. The fathers alleged that their parental rights were restricted, or that they were permanently or temporarily separated from their children, by order of the New Jersey family courts without adequate notice, the right to counsel, or a plenary hearing, i.e. without an opportunity to present evidence or cross-examine and that although mothers and fathers are, in theory, treated equally in custody disputes under New Jersey law, in practice courts favor mothers. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal of the suit, after holding that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not bar the suit, which was not challenging the state court judgments, but the underlying policy that governed those judgments. The court concluded that the judicial defendants were not proper defendants, having acted in an adjudicatory capacity and not in an enforcement capacity. View "Allen v. DeBello" on Justia Law