In September 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona first ordered Ms. Shon to return the parties’ two children to Germany under the Hague Abduction Convention. In its return order, it required Ms. Shon to also return, deeming this necessary to ameliorate the grave risk of psychological harm in returning the children. Ms. Shon appealed, and in August 2021, the Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded, requesting more supporting evidence on whether the order returning the children in Ms. Shon’s custody had a high likelihood of performance through supportive reinforcements in Germany. In November 2021, the District Court had a further evidentiary hearing, took evidence from a German law expert, and spoke with the German Central Authority. On December 30, 2021, it issued a further order, again requiring the return of the children to Germany. By the end of November 2021, however, Ms. Shon had requested the Supreme Court take up her case. The case of Golan v. Saada was already pending in the Supreme Court, with the same issue presented by Ms. Shon (whether a district court must consider ameliorative measures (like ordering the children be returned to Germany in Ms. Shon’s custody) upon a finding of a grave risk of harm). Therefore, the Supreme Court held Ms. Shon’s case until it issued its opinion in Golan v. Saada on June 15, 2022. Golan v. Saada declined to mandate a trial judge’s consideration of measures to ameliorate a grave risk, but reaffirmed that judges have the discretion to consider them, giving some guidance as to when it may be appropriate and when it may not.
On June 27, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Ms. Shon’s petition for writ of certiorari, and immediately remanded the case, in light of Golan v. Saada. The District Court requested briefing on the impact of the Golan v. Saada decision on the Convention return petition pending before the court. On August 19, 2022, without any further evidentiary hearing, the District Court again ordered the children returned to Germany. The Court found that “the ameliorative measure set forth in its December 30, 2021 Order – namely, that Respondent return with OSR and MSR to Germany – satisfies the requirements outlined in Golan. The Order complies with the Convention’s requirement that courts act expeditiously in proceedings for the return of children, and it avoids usurping the role of the German courts in adjudicating the parties’ underlying custody dispute. … Finally, the ameliorative measure of requiring Respondent to return with the children to Germany appropriately prioritizes the physical and psychological safety of OSR and MSR.” The court specifically declined to have a further evidentiary hearing, which was requested by Ms. Shon. It found that such a hearing would cause unnecessary delay. Ms. Shon is required to return the children within 30 days of the order.