The Asvesta v. Petroutsas Case

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The Asvesta v. Petroutsas Case

The Hague convention is a treaty signed by numerous countries to help resolve kidnaping scenarios where one parent takes a child from the other parent to a different country. The goal is to prevent forum shopping and to allow the quick return of children. Asvesta v. Petroutsas was decided by the United States Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit in 2009. Asvesta involved a dispute between George Petroutsas, a dual citizen of Greece and the United States, and Despina Asvesta, a Greek citizen.

The couple were married and had a child together. At the time of the decision the minor child was 4 years old. Originally the mother had taken the child to Greece when the child was six months old for a brief stay and then extended her stay in Greece with the child, withholding the child from the father. 

The father filed for divorce in California where the parties lived. The California court awarded custody to the father even though the child was still in Greece. Both parties filed petitions under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (ICARA). The father filed his petition in Greece first.  

The Greek court denied the petition filed by the father. The Greek court determined that the return of the child to the United States was not required. It found among other things that the father had misled the mother to believe that their move to the United States was temporary, the parties could not afford to live in the U.S, the father was swearing and talking bad to the mother, the father was disinterested in the family after their child was born, the father consented to the trip to Greece, the father had an affair, the minor would be in severe danger if the child was returned to the US, and the father was not exercising his custody rights when mother left.

After that decision, the father took the child from Greece during his supervised visitation and returned with the child to the United States. The mother filed a Hague petition in the United States’ District Court in California for the return of the child to Greece. The district court granted the mother’s petition on the basis of comity. It deferred to the Greek court’s denial of the father’s Hague petition. 

The father appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stating that the district court should not have deferred to the Greek court’s order, because the Greek court did not follow the rules of the Hague Convention. 

The Ninth Circuit agreed with the father stating that the court should not have deferred to the Greek court, because the Greek court’s decision contradicted the principles and objectives of the Hague Convention. The Greek court analyzed the merits of the facts of the case and relied on unreasonable factual findings.  

If you need legal advice and are looking for a family law lawyer in Orange County to address a dissolution issue such as child support or any other divorce matter such as legal separation, annulment, custody, spousal support and/or property division, please consider Treviño Law in your divorce attorney search. We are located in Laguna Hills right off Lake Forest exit to both the 405 and 5 freeway. 

Although the posting of this information can be considered free legal advice for a divorce in Orange County, it does not address other factors which may play a significant role in a particular dissolution. Circumstances in your divorce may alter the results in your dissolution.  

Please note that this legal advice does not establish a family law attorney-client relationship. This is a legal advertisement for Treviño Law, Inc.

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