On June 7, 2022, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, in an unreported opinion, affirmed the registration of a Salvadoran custody order that provided for a father’s visitation. The parents secured a court order from El Salvador. The mother then relocated the child to Maryland, and the father sought to register and enforce his visitation, outlined in the order. He presented two separate, different, translations of the El Salvador order – one with his registration paperwork and another at a hearing set by the court on the mother’s contest to the registration.
The mother contested registration, arguing that she was not properly served; that the Salvadoran order did not, on its face, constitute a custody order under the UCCJEA; and that the “order violated fundamental principles of human rights.” The trial court registered the order. It found that the court’s notice to the mother of the registration process was sufficient, that the order was issued by a court having jurisdiction, and that it had not been vacated, stayed or modified, and the mother had notice of the actual custody proceedings and was, in fact, at the hearing. It further found that the order set forth a visitation schedule between the father and child. Finally, the court concluded that the Salvadoran order did not violate human rights. The mother was able to secure a temporary protective order in El Salvador, she had a lawyer, and the order itself said it considered “what is in the best interest of everyone,” which included the child.
The court also concluded that, while it registered the order, it would not enforce it, since the Mother had not been properly served under the UCCJEA.
The appellate court did make note of a key issue that is frequently asked – the father asked that the Spanish Salvadoran custody order be registered, not either of the two English translations he presented. In fact, he is not required by the statute to present an English translation. The inconsistencies in the translations allowed mother to (unsuccessfully) argue that the order was not a child custody order, but the court concluded that it could review both translations and evidence submitted to reach the conclusion that it was.