Blackledge v. Blackledge, No. 16-3667 (3d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
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.