US father won't return child to French mother

18th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

NICE, Aug 17 (AFP) - The US father of a five-year-old girl said Wednesday he would defy a French court order to hand her back to his estranged French wife pending their divorce, deepening a transatlantic tug-of-law over the child.

NICE, Aug 17 (AFP) - The US father of a five-year-old girl said Wednesday he would defy a French court order to hand her back to his estranged French wife pending their divorce, deepening a transatlantic tug-of-law over the child.

David Washington told the French newspaper Var Matin that his daughter, Charlotte, "will stay with me" in New York state, in the latest twist in a case that has tested an international convention on binational family cases.

On Tuesday, a French family court judge ordered Washington to provisionally return the girl to her mother living in southern France, Sophie Maumousseau, until a divorce she has instigated is completed.

The judgement was a legal victory for Maumousseau, who was forced to give custody of Charlotte to Washington last year in line with a 1980 Hague Convention that obliges signatory states to return a child to his or her usual residence in another country in case of an illegal abduction by one of the parents.

Maumousseau had taken her daughter to France with her in 2003, after her three-year-old marriage to Washington started breaking up.

"This is maybe the end of a nightmare that I've been living every day for the past six months," Maumousseau told the newspaper Le Parisien.

But Washington, in his interview from New York, made it clear he had no intention of obeying the French court order.

"I know pertinently that if Charlotte goes back to France, I will never see her again," he said. "American justice has decided, above everything, even before Charlotte was returned to me under the Hague Convention, that I alone had custody of my daughter. The French court knows that. Its decision doesn't mean anything."

One of his lawyers, Lionel Escoffier, told AFP that it was likely Washington would appeal the French verdict.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Sophie Maumousseau, David Washington, child custody, Hague Convention

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