Courtesy of the great New Jersey divorce lawyer and blogger Charlie Abut, a story about a standoff between Spanish and U.S. courts over custody jurisdiction and visitation enforcement:
A New Jersey appeals court on Tuesday declined to order the release of a
Spanish woman being held at the Bergen County Jail for not turning over her
daughter to her ex-husband.
Maria Jose Carrascosa has been locked up since November, after she took
their 6-year-old daughter to Spain in the middle of a divorce and custody
battle against Peter Innes of Hasbrouck Heights. Superior Court Judge Edward
Torack granted custody of young Victoria to Innes and ordered Carrascosa to
return the child to the United States.
The appeals panel said Tuesday that Torack's decision "made the child's best
interests paramount in its consideration and did not violate Carrascosa's
due process rights."
The judges also urged both parties to end "this sad affair."
"We are charged with resolving the legal issues presented according to law,"
the panel wrote. "Tragically, our resolution of these legal issues does not
result in the immediate amelioration of this young child's predicament.
"That unfortunately will require action on the part of Innes and Carrascosa,
particularly Carrascosa, to act in their daughter's best interest."
Carrascosa has insisted she has the right to keep the child in Spain, where
she obtained an order from a court that Victoria not leave the country until
she turns 18. The bitter dispute has cost the parties upwards of $1 million
and has left the mother in jail for more than four months, while the child
has remained in Spain for more than two years without either parent.
Carrascosa, in addition to filing petitions in state and federal courts,
appealed Torack's decision. Her attorneys argued that the courts in Spain,
and not in New Jersey, were the appropriate jurisdiction to determine the
issue of custody, and also challenged the sanctions imposed on her.
The appeals panel ruled that New Jersey is the proper jurisdiction for the
dispute and found that Victoria's removal was "wrongful."
Carrascosa's attorney, Alan Lewis, said he and his client are weighing their
Innes said he wasn't surprised by the ruling.
"I just want my daughter back," he said. "Until I get my daughter back, this
is just another court decision."
His attorney, Peter Van Aulen, said the appeals panel "got it right."
"I just hope that [Carrascosa] would have the wisdom to bring the child
back," Van Aulen said. "I think this insanity must end."