On October 29, 2020, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3, addressed, in an unpublished opinion, the 2nd appeal noted by Tammy Noergaard to the order returning her eldest daughter, Mia, to Denmark. In quick summary, Tammy had 2 daughters with Christian Noergaard. They were born in California, but a few years later, the family re-settled in Denmark. The parents separated, and they went through years of litigation and appeals in Denmark over the custody of their two children, eventually resulting in Christian securing full custody of both daughters in October 2011, affirmed on appeal in December 2012. In May 2013, Tammy abducted the oldest child to California. In January 2014, Christian located Mia, filed a Hague Abduction return petition, and Mia was ordered returned to him. Tammy appealed (apparently without obtaining a stay of the return order), and succeeded. Her case was reversed and remanded for a new trial because of certain due process deficiencies at the first trial. After the second trial, the court again ordered Mia returned to Denmark (where she had been living already after the first return order). Shortly after the 2nd return order, Mia turned age 16. The court then ordered Tammy to pay Christian his legal fees, and ordered a confidential interview transcript between the Judge and Mia to be sealed. Tammy appealed from all three orders: the return order, the fee order, and the sealing order. Her 3 notices of appeal were filed after Mia turned age 16. (But, note, the return order was entered before Mia turned age 16).
In this new appeal, the court addressed all three notices of appeal, but the pertinent one for this blog post was that it ruled that Tammy’s appeal of the return order was moot since Mia had turned 16 after the return order, but before the notice of appeal. Citing to a State Department publication, the court said, “Even if a child is under sixteen at the time of the wrongful removal or retention as well as when the Convention is invoked, the Convention ceases to apply when the child reaches sixteen.” The court therefore concluded that “[a]t her 16th birthday, the Hague Convention no longer applied to Mia. In other words, even if the trial court had erred somehow in the Hague proceeding, we are powerless to provide any effective relief from the return order.”