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Quarles & Brady Obtains Victory in Pro Bono International Child Abduction

PHOENIX, ARIZ. - Quarles & Brady attorneys Marian M. Zapata-Rossa and Dawn C. Valdivia achieved the successful return of a child to his Mexican-national father in a pro bono international child abduction case under the Hague Convention.

In 2003, the client's son was taken from him by the birth mother, who fled with the child to the United States. Quarles & Brady accepted the pro bono assignment in 2005 and began the process of filing multiple visa applications so that the father could come to the U.S. and petition the court for the return of his child. It took four years and assistance from several authorities, including a letter of support from Senator John McCain, before the paperwork cleared and the child's father was given permission to make his case. In 2009, he finally obtained a visa and a hearing date.

However, the mother and child never appeared at the hearing and fled again. After many years of working with the U.S. State Department and the Arizona Clearinghouse to locate them, they were found with the help of Subrosa Investigations, a Spanish-speaking private investigation firm. Zapata-Rossa obtained a second visa and hearing date for the client, and this time the mother and child appeared. Despite the length of time that had elapsed since the child was initially brought to the U.S., Zapata-Rossa successfully persuaded Judge Pamela Gates to rule in the father's favor.

International child abduction cases are fairly straightforward legally, if emotionally difficult, but this case faced more legal and factual challenges than most, so the outcome remained in significant doubt until Gates finally ruled. With his son back in his custody, the father emotionally thanked Zapata-Rossa, saying, in Spanish, "Attorney Zapata-Rossa, I will be eternally indebted to you for your efforts."

"Quarles & Brady provides a lot of pro bono services to people who badly need legal representation and can't afford it," said Valdivia, "but this case was particularly satisfying because so much hard work, in the face of very difficult obstacles, ultimately resulted in a happy ending and a joyful reunion."

For more information on this case, or if you have any questions about Quarles & Brady's Pro Bono work, please contact Marian Zapata-Rossa at (602) 229-5447.