Didon v. Castillo, No. 15-3350 (3d Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Dominguez moved to Dutch Sint Maarten in 2007. Dominguez met Didon and moved into his Dutch Sint Maarten apartment in 2009. In 2010, A.D. was born; in 2011, Dominguez’s daughter from a previous relationship, J.D., joined them. Didon and Dominguez successfully petitioned the French consulate to change J.D.’s birth certificate to list Didon as her father. The family resided in Dutch Sint Maarten, Didon worked and the children attended school in French Saint Martin. In 2014, Dominguez took the children to New York for her sister’s wedding, showing Didon round-trip tickets. Dominguez did not return with the children. Didon pursued a custody action. A French court granted him full custody of both children in an ex parte order. Didon’s investigator located them in Pennsylvania. Didon filed a Hague Convention petition. Following an ex parte telephone hearing, the Pennsylvania district court ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to serve Dominguez, and to confiscate the passports of Dominguez, A.D., and J.D. After hearings at which both parties presented evidence, the court granted Didon’s petition. The Third Circuit vacated. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction allows a parent to petition for the return of a child when that child has been removed or retained from her “habitual residence” country in violation of the parent’s custody rights in that country. The Hague Convention is recognized by French Saint Martin but is not recognized by Dutch Sint Maarten. Rejecting an argument that a child could have two concurrent “habitual residence” countries, the court concluded that the children were habitual residents only of the country in which they “lived”—Dutch Sint Maarten.