In late 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of NJ ordered the return of two children to El Salvador under the Hague Abduction Convention in JCC v. LC. If you recall that case, the court refused to hear directly from the 15 year old child. It took notice of the child’s “preference” for the United States, but used its discretion to return the children. The court declined to interview the child, saying, “[t]his Court declined to hear testimony from the Children at the October 20, 2020 evidentiary hearing as it would have been redundant, needlessly harmful to the Children, and potentially influenced by Respondent.” The child’s mother, LC, appealed solely on the issue of “whether the District Court erred by refusing to interview the children and precluding their testimony at the hearing.” The Third Circuit, in a non-precedential opinion, affirmed the return order.
The Third Circuit stated that, “District courts have discretion, inter alia, to consider the wishes of the child in determining whether to return a child to her country of residence. … We have not held – nor has LC pointed to any cases holding – that a district court is required to conduct an interview with the child when adjudicating a claim brought under the Hague Convention.”