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Pittsburgh Child Custody Lawyer Brian C. Vertz Breaks Down Pivotal Hague Convention Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court

5 May 2022 10:28 AM | Kelsey Peake (Administrator)

Brian C. Vertz, Pittsburgh child custody lawyer and a partner at Pollock Begg with experience handling international custody disputes, said a case set to go before the U.S. Supreme Court could change the way courts deal with cross-border custody disagreements involving domestic violence.

In December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an international family law case between an Italian father and an American mother who fled Italy with her child to escape spousal abuse, triggering the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Golan v. Saada case is only the fifth international child abduction case to come before the Court since 1988.

The Justices will now decide whether lower courts may consider protective measures to mitigate grave risk of harm to allow a child to be returned to its habitual residence. In doing so, the Supreme Court must weigh the goal of deterring international child abduction against the goal of protecting individuals from domestic violence.

Vertz filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers to provide insight into the complexities of international custody cases and the limitations of the Hague Convention, a treaty between signatory nations, whose sole purpose is to deter parents from wrongfully removing children from their habitual residence.

Article 13(b) of the treaty carves out a narrow exception for returning children to their country of habitual residence where a child’s well-being is seriously endangered. But, the Hague Convention lacks provisions for judging a child’s best interests, awarding custody or preventing further abuse. Whether a child’s return is granted or denied in a Hague proceeding, further custody proceedings are required to protect an at-risk child.

Now the Supreme Court must decide whether the law permits courts to consider risk mitigation measures in international child abduction cases, at what stage of the legal process these undertakings may be proposed, who bears the burden of proof and whether the undertakings must be enforceable.

In addition to the AAML amicus brief, Vertz also outlined the details of Golan v. Saada in a recent analysis piece on Law.com

Read the AAML’s amicus brief on Golan v. Saada. (PDF)

Read Brian’s piece on the Law.com website.

As a partner at Pollock Begg since 2001, Pittsburgh child custody lawyer Vertz is a powerful ally for clients facing child support and custody litigation, divorce, settlements and family law appeals up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. A tenacious negotiator, Vertz is skilled in collaborative law, arbitration, and mediation, including cross-border international and Hague Convention cases. Read his online profile to learn more.

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