Trial Court Properly Recognized & Enforced a Foreign Court’s Custody Order

Family Law Case Review

Case: Maimouna Coulibaly v. Eric Stevance
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

HELD: Indiana trial court properly recognized and enforced a Malian court’s custody order, over Mother’s objection that the order was unenforceable under the UCCJEA because Mali’s child custody laws violate fundamental humanrights.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Mother and Father are both dual citizens of France and Mali. In 2001, they married in Mali and later had two children together.  Father filed for divorce in Mali in 2008. At a hearing there, Mother testified that she wished to move away from Mali, and that Father had been abusive to her. Father denied the abuse claim, and expressed concern that Mother might kidnap the children. Both parties requested custody. Before the Malian court could rule, Mother took the children and moved to France. The Malian court subsequently issued an order granting custody of the children to Father.

Mother never returned the children to Father, and after unsuccessfully contesting the custody order in Mali and France, Mother moved to Indiana, where she continued to challenge the order. At a trial in Indiana, Mother presented evidence of corruption in Mali and of widespread female genital mutilation (“FGM”), which Mother feared the daughter would be subjected to. The Indiana trial court ultimately concluded that that Malian child custody order was entitled to enforcement and that the Indiana court lacked jurisdiction to modify it. Further, Mother was ordered to return the children to Father. That order was stayed pending Mother’s appeal.

Indiana’s adoption of the UCCJEA includes a provision that essentially allows an Indiana court to disregard a foreign custody order, “if the child custody law of a foreign country violates the fundamental principles of human rights.” The interpretation of this so-called “escape clause” was a matter of first impression in this case.  Mother’s arguments that Malian law violated principles of human rights included that its laws favor men over women. The Court of Appeals acknowledged that Malian law treats men and women in different ways, but their custody laws ultimately provide for a “best interests of the children” standard. As to the application of gender differences, “we simply cannot say that they are so utterly shocking to the conscience or egregious as to rise to the level of a violation of fundamental principles of human rights.”

The Court of Appeals also rejected Mother’s arguments based upon the FGM issue: Under the UCCJEA “our scrutiny is limited to Mali’s child custody law and not on other aspects of its legal system, including the law (or absence of law) concerning FGM.” Failing to prove that Mali’s custody laws violate fundamental principles of human law, the trial court properly ordered that the Malian custody decree should not be disturbed by the Indiana court.

The trial court’s order was affirmed.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Maimouna Coulibaly v. Eric Stevance

 

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James A. Reed and Michael R. Kohlhaas of Bingham Greenebaum Doll represent clients in a wide spectrum of relationship transition and wealth planning matters, including premarital agreements, estate planning, cohabitation, separation, divorce (especially involving high net worth individuals and/or complex asset issues), custody, parenting arrangements, adoption, and domestic partnerships. Bingham Greenebaum Doll, a multidisciplinary law firm serving regional, national, and international clients, is the fourth-largest law firm in Indiana. The firm’s main practices include corporate, property, litigation, labor, government law, and personal services law. Visit the firm’s website at www.bgdlegal.com.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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Happy Halloween from your Amateur Life Coach!

Thank you. Thank you very much.

It’s a day to dress up, play pretend, and perhaps imagine being one of your heroes.

Remember, “Treat” don’t “Trick”. Then, grab your kid’s treat bag and visit ICLEF.org on Thursday for episode 1 of the new season!

The Amateur Life Coach returns Thursday, November 2nd to dispense his unique thoughts, advice and wisdom to his real and imagined viewers…

While the Amateur Life Coach puts the finishing touches on this latest season, take a moment to reacquaint yourself with our old friend and “binge watch” Seasons 1 through 3 by clicking here.

Season IV will examine an issue common to all lawyers, being “screw-drivered”. While you may not be familiar with the term, your practice has no doubt suffered from being “screw-drivered”. To learn more about being “screw-drivered” and how to deal with it in your practice check back here throughout November and December to find out:

Ep. #1: Being Screw-drivered by Opposing Counsel – Thursday, November 2
Ep. #2: Being Screw-drivered by a Judge – Thursday, November 16
Ep. #3: Being Screw-drivered by A Client – Tuesday, December 5
Ep. #4: How Do We Avoid Being Screw-drivered at ALL? – Thursday, December 14

____________________________________________

James J. Bell, ICLEF's Amateur Life Coach

Questions for the Amateur Life Coach?
Submit questions for the Amateur Life Coach to iclef@iclef.org

You can also follow the Amateur Life Coach on Twitter and Facebook:
Twitter: @AmtrLifeCoach            Facebook: “The Amateur Life Coach”

__________________________________________________

Written and performed by James J. Bell. Produced by the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum. This video is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice.

About James J. Bell – James is an experienced criminal defense and legal ethics lawyer.  For over 17 years he has defended individuals facing criminal charges. James also regularly provides advice to attorneys and law firms on difficult ethical issues.

In addition, when businesses are confronted with the need to conduct internal investigations, he not only advises, but directs them through the nuances of that process.

James has served as a major felony public defender in state court, and currently is a Director on the Indiana Federal Community Defenders Board.  James is a regular contributor to The Indiana Lawyer on criminal law and legal ethics topics.  He also has served as an adjunct professor at Indiana University, Robert H. McKinney School of Law teaching professional responsibility. Follow James on Twitter at @jamesjbell

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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The Amateur Life Coach – Have You Ever Been “Screw-drivered”?

The Amateur Life Coach’s return begins Thursday, November 2nd with a season that addresses the issue of being “Screw-drivered”….

Unfortunately, getting screw-drivered happens to everyone, even attorneys. This season, the Amateur Life Coach will provide his sage advice on how to handle these situations as they arise; because they WILL.  After all, the world is full of tools:

Ep. #1: Being Screw-drivered by Opposing Counsel – Thursday, November 2
Ep. #2: Being Screw-drivered by a Judge – Thursday, November 16
Ep. #3: Being Screw-drivered by A Client – Tuesday, December 5
Ep. #4: How Do We Avoid Being Screw-drivered at ALL? – Thursday, December 14

While the Amateur Life Coach puts the finishing touches on this latest season, take a moment to reacquaint yourself with our old friend and “binge watch” Seasons 1 through 3 by clicking here.

James J. Bell, ICLEF's Amateur Life Coach

Questions for the Amateur Life Coach?
Submit questions for the Amateur Life Coach to iclef@iclef.org

You can also follow the Amateur Life Coach on Twitter and Facebook:
Twitter: @AmtrLifeCoach            Facebook: “The Amateur Life Coach”

__________________________________________________

Written and performed by James J. Bell. Produced by the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum. This video is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice.

About James J. Bell – James is an experienced criminal defense and legal ethics lawyer.  For over 17 years he has defended individuals facing criminal charges. James also regularly provides advice to attorneys and law firms on difficult ethical issues.

In addition, when businesses are confronted with the need to conduct internal investigations, he not only advises, but directs them through the nuances of that process.

James has served as a major felony public defender in state court, and currently is a Director on the Indiana Federal Community Defenders Board.  James is a regular contributor to The Indiana Lawyer on criminal law and legal ethics topics.  He also has served as an adjunct professor at Indiana University, Robert H. McKinney School of Law teaching professional responsibility. Follow James on Twitter at @jamesjbell

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Posted in Amateur Life Coach0 Comments

ALC-Desk-Stuff-Final-2

The Amateur Life Coach Returns for Season IV – Nov. 2!

James J. Bell, ICLEF's Amateur Life Coach

The Amateur Life Coach returns Thursday, November 2nd to dispense his unique thoughts, advice and wisdom to his real and imagined viewers…


TOOLS OF THE TRADE!

While the Amateur Life Coach puts the finishing touches on this latest season, take a moment to reacquaint yourself with our old friend and “binge watch” Seasons 1 through 3 here:
https://goo.gl/8XNZPZ

Season IV will examine an issue common to all lawyers, being “screw-drivered”. While you may not be familiar with the term, your practice has no doubt suffered from being “screw-drivered”. To learn more about being “screw-drivered” and how to deal with it in your practice check back here throughout November and December to find out:

Ep. #1 Being Screw-drivered by Opposing Counsel – Thursday, November 2

Ep. #2 Being Screw-Drivered by a Judge – Thursday, November 16

Ep. #3 Being Screw-drivered by A Client – Tuesday, December 5

Ep. #4 How Do We Avoid Being Screw-drivered at ALL? – Thursday, December 14

_______________________________

Questions for the Amateur Life Coach?
Submit questions for the Amateur Life Coach to iclef@iclef.org

You can also follow the Amateur Life Coach on Twitter and Facebook:
Twitter: @AmtrLifeCoach            Facebook: “The Amateur Life Coach”

Written and performed by James J. Bell. Produced by the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum. This video is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice.

_____________________________

About James J. Bell – James is an experienced criminal defense and legal ethics lawyer.  For over 17 years he has defended individuals facing criminal charges. James also regularly provides advice to attorneys and law firms on difficult ethical issues.

In addition, when businesses are confronted with the need to conduct internal investigations, he not only advises, but directs them through the nuances of that process.

James has served as a major felony public defender in state court, and currently is a Director on the Indiana Federal Community Defenders Board.  James is a regular contributor to The Indiana Lawyer on criminal law and legal ethics topics.  He also has served as an adjunct professor at Indiana University, Robert H. McKinney School of Law teaching professional responsibility. Follow James on Twitter at @jamesjbell

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Posted in Amateur Life Coach, Law Blogs0 Comments