Hernandez v. Pena, No. 15-30993 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Six-year-old D.A.P.G. was abducted from his home in Honduras and brought illegally into the United States by defendant, his mother. Plaintiff filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Oct. 25, 1980, T.I.A.S. No. 11,670, seeking the return of his only child. Plaintiff filed his return petition two months outside of the one-year period of the child's wrongful removal, allowing the district court to consider the Convention’s defense that the child is well-settled in his new environment and therefore should not be returned. The district court denied plaintiff's petition, concluding that D.A.P.G. was well-settled in his current community even though defendant’s removal of D.A.P.G. from Honduras was wrongful. The court concluded that the district court erred in its legal analysis and application of the Convention’s well-settled defense. The court joined its sister circuits and held that the following factors should be considered: (1) the child’s age; (2) the stability and duration of the child’s residence in the new environment; (3) whether the child attends school or day care consistently; (4) whether the child has friends and relatives in the new area; (5) the child’s participation in community or extracurricular activities; (6) the respondent’s employment and financial stability; and (7) the immigration status of the respondent and child. The court joined the Second and Ninth Circuits in concluding that immigration status is neither dispositive nor subject to categorical rules, but instead is one relevant factor in a multifactor test. Here, the district court did not clearly err in its factual findings but erred in its legal interpretation and application of the well-settled defense. Giving due consideration to immigration status and the other relevant factors listed above, the thin evidence in the record does not demonstrate that D.A.P.G. has formed significant connections to his new environment. Accordingly, the court vacated and rendered judgment in plaintiff's favor.