The parties are unmarried parents to 2 children, ages 13 and 11. The children were born in and lived their lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico (their habitual residence). In June 2018, the Mexican family court awarded the Mother sole custody with visitation to the Father. The children’s passports and travel documents were deposited with the Mexican family court, and the Father was permitted to travel with the children outside of Mexico, reporting to the court the dates of departure and return, and the proposed destination, and delivering the travel documents back to the court at the conclusion of each trip.
In early 2020, the parents engaged in significant litigation related to the Father’s desire to travel with the children to visit his mother in Idaho. Ultimately, the court in Mexico prohibited the travel due to COVID. But, the Father then assisted the Children to file their own legal challenge to the travel prohibition, which resulted in the travel prohibition being suspended. The children traveled with their Father to Idaho in late 2020 and early 2021. The Father again provided notice of a trip with the children for April 1-11, 2021. While in Idaho with the children during this trip, the Mexican appellate court reversed course and reinstated its prohibition on the children’s travel. The Father learned of this ruling on April 9, 2021. He thereafter notified the Mother that he would not return the children because of the ban on his travel with the children. The Mexican family court ordered the Father to return the children to Mexico three times (in April, May, and July).
The Father filed a custody suit in Idaho. The Mother filed a Hague Abduction return petition on December 31, 2021. The Mother sought preliminary injunctive relief, pending the evidentiary merits hearing, scheduled for April 28, 2022. She requested a ne exeat, surrender of the children’s travel documents, proof of their COVID vaccination, unmonitored video communication with the children, and disclosure of the names of their school(s). The Father fought only the ne exeat, arguing that he should be permitted to travel to Montana for the children’s extracurriculars and California for spring break.
The court granted Mother’s request for a ne exeat on the papers. The Father argued against the injunctive relief, claiming that when Mexico reinstated its prohibition on the children’s international travel in early April 2021, this meant he was prohibited from exiting Idaho to return to Mexico. This is disingenuous, at best. He had enrolled them in school before learning the travel ban was reinstated, he ignored several Mexican court orders to return the children, and he knew that the Mother did not consent to them remaining in Idaho. The Father, who consistently lost in his various appeals and efforts in the Mexican courts, took unilateral action to retain the children.