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Amdamaskal v. Amdamaskal

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 10, 2018

ADIS MARSHA AMDAMASKAL, Petitioner,
v.
SELAMAWIT MARSHA AMDAMASKAL, Respondent.

          Allison Maxim, MAXIM LAW, PLLC, for petitioner.

          Ruta Johnsen, NANCY ZALUSKY BERG, LLC, for respondent.

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

          Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge.

         This is an action under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Hague Convention”) and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 22 U.S.C. § 9001 et seq. Petitioner Adis Marsha Amdamaskal (“Adis”) seeks the return of his children, M. and L., claiming that their mother, respondent Selamawit Marsha Amdamaskal (“Selamawit”), wrongfully removed them to the United States from Israel. Selamawit raises the affirmative defenses that (1) Adis commenced this action more than one year after the removal and the children are settled in the United States, and (2) the children would be at grave risk of harm if they were returned to Israel.

         The Court held evidentiary hearings in this matter on April 2 and April 25, 2018. Adis participated in the hearings via video teleconference, as he was unable to obtain a visa to travel to the United States. Based on the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Court holds that the children are settled in the United States and denies Adis's petition for their return.

         I. FINDINGS OF FACT

         A. Background

         1. Adis immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in 1991. Resp't Ex. 101 ¶ 6.

         2. Adis and Selamawit were married in Ethiopia in 2002. This was Adis's second marriage. After the marriage, Selamawit immigrated to Israel. Resp't Ex. 101 ¶ 6; Pet'r Ex. 16 ¶ 6.[1]

         3. M. was born in 2006 while Adis and Selamawit were traveling in the United States. The family returned to Israel when M. was six months old. Resp't Ex. 101 ¶ 6.

         4. L. was born in Israel in 2011. Resp't Ex. 101 ¶ 6.

         5. In March 2013, Adis was convicted of assaulting Selamawit and one of the children. The written record describes Adis as pinching or scratching the child and pouring water on Selamawit. Adis was sentenced to a conditional sentence of six months, with the condition being that he not be convicted of additional assaults. Pet'r Ex. 18.

         6. Around the time of these convictions, Selamawit initiated divorce proceedings in Israel. Pet'r Ex. 16; Resp't Ex. 118. After mediation, however, Selamawit decided to reconcile with Adis for the children's sake.

         7. Selamawit alleges that Adis regularly verbally and physically abused her during their marriage. She describes grave forms of abuse, including rape and death threats. Resp't Ex. 118. There is also evidence that Adis committed some type of abuse against his first wife. Selamawit testified that she brought her children to the United States to protect them from Adis.

         B. The Children's Removal to the United States

         8. With Adis's knowledge and permission, Selamawit and the children left Israel in January 2016 to visit family in Ethiopia. They were supposed to return to Israel on February 4, 2016, but instead Selamawit brought the children to the United States. Resp't Ex. 111 ¶ 10. Selamawit did so without the knowledge or permission of Adis.

         9. A few days after Selamawit traveled to the United States, Adis's sister contacted one of Selamawit's sisters in Ethiopia. Selamawit's sister informed Adis's sister that Selamawit had left for the United States. Resp't Ex. 119.

         Adis testified that Selamawit's family thought that Selamawit had returned to Israel and that they did not tell him that she had departed for the United States. Documents in the record, however, make it clear that Adis knew almost immediately that Selamawit and the children were in the United States. Pet'r Ex. 11 (February 7, 2016 letter from Israeli Ministry of Justice following up on a conversation with Adis and enclosing forms “required by the authorities in the US”); Resp't Ex. 139 at 5 (March 2, 2016 email from Adis's counsel stating that Selamawit and the children are in “Washington, Minnesota”). The Court therefore credits the written statement of Selamawit's sister, who avers that she told Adis's sister that Selamawit went to the United States.

         10. On February 4, 2016-the same day that Selamawit and the children were supposed to return to Israel-Adis filed a complaint with the Israeli police concerning his missing wife and children. Pet'r Ex. 10. Ten days later, on February 14, 2016, Adis, through counsel, sent a letter and supporting materials to the Israeli Ministry of Justice entitled “Re: Application to Institute Proceedings Under The Hague Convention- Abduction of Minors.” Resp't Ex. 104. Adis submitted these materials in accordance ...


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