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May 22, 2015

King & Spalding Achieves Appellate Victory in Pro Bono International Child Custody Case

NEW YORK, May 22, 2015 — A King & Spalding pro bono team achieved a victory on behalf of a client May 15 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, when the court affirmed a lower court’s order that had denied a petition to repatriate the client’s 9-year-old daughter to Spain.

The appellate court affirmed the district court’s June 2014 rejection of a demand by the child’s mother to repatriate the girl, and affirmed the finding that the child is well settled with King & Spalding’s client—the child’s father—in New York.

The child’s mother filed the petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, claiming that the child’s father wrongfully retained the child in the U.S. The petition sought repatriation of the child to Spain under the Hague Convention’s requirement that jurisdiction over any custody dispute remain with the country of the child’s “habitual residence.”

King & Spalding argued on the father’s behalf in district court and again in March before the Second Circuit that the petition should be denied because the child was “well settled” and there was a grave risk of harm to the child should she return to the country of habitual residence. In support of these arguments, King & Spalding offered evidence that the child was thriving in the United States with her father and would likely suffer from abuse and neglect if returned to Spain. The district court ruled in favor of King & Spalding’s client after a one-week evidentiary hearing, and a panel of the Second Circuit affirmed on May 15.

The King & Spalding pro bono legal team representing the father was led by senior associates J. Emmett Murphy and Lauren Webb Mitchell, both based in New York, with assistance from partner Jim Capra (New York) and associates Kathryn E. Kuhn (Washington, D.C.) and Greg Schneider (New York). New York business litigation partner Wendy H. Waszmer oversaw the trial and appellate team.

About King & Spalding
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