The parties, parents to two daughters, ages 11 and 6, agreed that the children’s mother, Ms. Nares violated a Mexican custody order and removed the children from Mexico to Texas with the intention of unilaterally changing their residence. She moved in with her new husband, who is a legal permanent resident of the United States, and residing in Texas. The only exception argued by the mother is that the children are mature and object to returning to Mexico. The judge granted the mother’s motion to interview the children in chambers, instead of having them testify in a courtroom, after hearing no objection by the father.
The judge acknowledged the awkwardness of the interview – neither child spoke English, both children kept their eyes cast downward and spoke quietly and only a couple of words at a time, often sticking to yes or no, I don’t know, or one word answers. The interview took place in a jury room, with several individuals: the judge, court reporter, interpreter, members of the court staff, but no one the children knew. The court admitted that both children voiced a preference for remaining in Texas with their mother, but even when the judge gave due consideration to the circumstances surrounding the questioning, the court concluded that the children were not mature enough for the court to account for their views. The court, in a footnote, even noted that the younger child could not identify the city, state, or country where she was currently living, nor could she identify where she previously lived. When the court asked the 11-year-old “what part of Texas she liked better than Mexico, she answered, ‘all’.”