United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
IN RE THE APPLICATION OF MAIRENI CABRAL DONE, Plaintiff / Petitioner,
NOEMI ANTONIA MATOS PICHARDO, Defendant/Respondent.
RICHARD W. STORY United States District Judge.
case comes before the Court for jurisdictional determination.
It was brought pursuant to the Hague Convention on Civil
Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague
Convention”), as implemented by the International Child
Abduction Remedies Act, 22 U.S.C. § 9001, et
seq., (“ICARA”). Petitioner, a citizen of
the Dominican Republic, filed the action on February 22,
2018, seeking to enforce his rights of access to his two
minor children who live with Respondent, their mother, in the
State of Georgia. The Court held an initial show cause and
scheduling hearing on March 8, 2018. Afterwards, Respondent
indicated that she intended to challenge the Petitioner's
rights of access to the children and responded to the
Petition. (Dkt. .) The Parties then filed briefs
analyzing various issues raised in this matter, including the
scope of the Court's jurisdiction. (Dkt. [13, 14].) After
reviewing the record and considering the Parties'
arguments in their briefs, the Court concludes that it does
not have jurisdiction to proceed with the case, and so it
must be dismissed.
Maireni Cabral Done, and Respondent, Noemi Antonia Matos
Pichardo, had two minor children while living in the
Dominican Republic: L.M., who was born in 2006, and J.M., who
was born in 2012. (Verified Pet. For Right Of Access Under
The Convention On The Civil Aspects Of International Child
Abduction (“Verified Pet.”), Dkt. 
¶¶ 6-8; Resp't Br. Analyzing The Ct.'s
Jurisdiction (“Resp't Br.”), Dkt.  at 1.)
Although the Parties never married, Petitioner is listed as
the Children's biological father on their birth
certificates. (Ex. C, Verified Pet., Dkt. .)
2016, Respondent decided to move to the United States and to
take the Children with her. Before they left, on April 29,
2016, the Parties entered into a private agreement regarding
custody and visitation. (Verified Pet., Dkt.  ¶¶
9-11.) In it, they agreed that the Children would live with
Respondent in the United States, while Petitioner would have
visitation rights during summers and Christmas. (See
Ex. D, Verified Pet., Dkt. [7-1].) This agreement was never
approved by a court in the Dominican Republic. (Resp't
Br., Dkt.  at 2; Pet'r's Br., Dkt.  at 3,
2016, Respondent and the Children moved to Lawrenceville,
Georgia, where they currently reside. (Verified Pet., Dkt.
 ¶ 12.) According to Petitioner, he has seen the
Children only once since they left the Dominican Republic-on
Christmas of 2016 when he came to Georgia to visit.
Respondent did not send the Children to him during the summer
of 2016 or Christmas of 2017. (Id.)
February 22, 2018, Petitioner filed the present action
pursuant to the Hague Convention and ICARA. Petitioner does
not object to the Children living with Respondent in Georgia.
Instead, he requests, among other things, that the Court
enter a final judgment securing his rights of access to the
children. (Verified Pet., Dkt.  at 5.) Now, the Court must
decide whether it has jurisdiction to do so.
case requires the Court to determine whether it has
jurisdiction to evaluate and make a determination on
Petitioner's rights of access to the Children. Though
they differ on some points, both Parties agree that the
answer is yes. But the Court is not convinced.
Hague Convention was created with two stated purposes:
“to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully
removed to or retained in any Contracting State, ” and
“to ensure that rights of custody and of access under
the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in
the other Contracting States.” Art. 1, T.I.A.S. No.
11670, S. Treaty Doc. No. 99-11, at 7. After the United
States ratified the Hague Convention in 1988, Congress
implemented it through ICARA, 22 U.S.C. § 9001, et
seq. ICARA instructs courts to “decide the case in
accordance with the Convention.” § 9003(d).
cases brought under the Hague Convention involve “a
child who was ‘wrongfully removed' from his place
of habitual residence in violation of a person's
custody rights, ” in which case the child
“must be returned to that place unless certain
‘narrow exceptions' apply.” Padilla v.
Troxell, 850 F.3d 168, 175 (4th Cir. 2017) (emphasis
added). But the Convention also protects a parents'
“rights of access”-or, colloquially, their
visitation rights. 22 U.S.C. § 9002(7). Specifically,
§ 9003(b) provides:
Any person seeking to initiate judicial proceedings under the
Convention for the return of a child or for arrangements
for organizing or securing the effective exercise of rights
of access to a child may do so by commencing a civil
action by filing a petition for the relief sought in any
court which has jurisdiction of such action and which is
authorized to exercise its jurisdiction in the place where
the child is located at the time the petition is filed.
22 U.S.C. § 9003(b) (emphasis added).
case involves an access claim. Petitioner does not seek
return of the Children to the Dominican Republic, but rather
an order for the Court ...