Australian Woman 'Forum Shopping' in the U.S. for a Speedy Divorce

A Colorado judge orders mother from Canberra, Australia to return home and denies her petition for divorce.

A woman from Canberra sought a divorce in the state of Colorado while her husband was in Australia. According to the judge, the mother was “forum shopping,” a process where an individual seeks a court that is rumored to favor plaintiff pleas. She was looking for a divorce, which she did not receive.

The Australian woman and her family visited the states last August for a business trip. The father returned home in September, while the kids and wife remained. According to reports, the woman wanted to stay in the U.S. for a short-term position, but the father wanted his children home in time for school, which started in February.

In December, the father found out his wife started an affair with another U.S. citizen and that she wanted a divorce. The Australian woman filed a dissolution of marriage in a Colorado state court. Determined to get his children back, the father used the Hague Convention to seek their return. The convention lists certain rights to protect children, particularly in cases of abduction.

The mother countered her husband’s order, citing his agreement to the children’s relocation and domestic violence as reasons. The father denied the claims. Because the woman did not report the charges previously and could not provide tangible evidence of her allegations, the judge declined the woman’s petition. The Colorado judge also concluded that the woman was ineligible to seek divorce in the state because she did not live there for the required 91 days. The judge believed Australia or California would be the appropriate courts to file in, but that she was forum shopping for a quick case.

In a separate court decision, the woman was ordered to pay her husband’s legal fees and was required to return her children to Australia.

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