Approximately one year ago, the U.S. District Court for the ND of Ohio ordered the parties’ children returned to Thailand under the Hague Abduction Convention. Ms. Pawananun, the Petitioner, now requests her legal fees and expenses to be paid by Mr. Petit. ICARA requires the Respondent to pay necessary expenses (including court costs, legal fees, transportation costs related to the child’s return, etc.) unless doing so is “clearly inappropriate.” Mr. Petit argues that an award is clearly inappropriate because: (1) his financial situation makes it inappropriate, and (2) he had justifiable reasons for leaving Thailand with the children. The court disagreed and awarded Ms. Pawananun $63,680.25.
Mr. Petit argued that he is in a dire financial situation, but he fails to connect that to his providing for the children. Ms. Pawananun has sole custody under a Thai Custody Order, the children are in her daily care, supported by her, and Mr. Petit’s access to the children is in Thailand. He further has access to free airfare to travel to Thailand to see the children. Mr. Petit also argued that, because the Petitioner did not see the harm her paramour presented to the children in Thailand, he had no choice but to remove the children. The court, however, found that the abuse allegations against the paramour were “equivocal at best,” and that the Respondent used the removal of his children as a manipulation tool (a bargaining chip, “demanding Petitioner drop her custody suit in exchange for access to her daughters”).