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Lozano v. Montoya Alvarez

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: March 5, 2014
Case #: No. 12–820
Thomas, J., delivered the Court's unanimous opinion. Alito, J., filed a concurring opinion which Breyer and Sotomayor, JJ., joined.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-820_3co3.pdf

Family Law: Equitable tolling is unavailable under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction even when the child's whereabouts is concealed.

Respondent fled unannounced from the United Kingdom with her and Petitioner’s child. Sixteen months later, Petitioner located Respondent in New York with their child and filed a Petition for the Return of Child pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The District Court denied the petition stating that repatriation would be extremely disruptive because the child had been settled in the U.S. for more than a year. Petitioner appealed to the Second Circuit arguing that the one year filing period requiring the return of the child should be subject to equitable tolling. The Second Circuit affirmed and denied the petition.

The Supreme Court affirmed and held that equable tolling was not available. The Court reasoned that equitable tolling does not apply to treaties because equitable tolling is a principle in American law, not international laws or treaties. The Court then stated that the one year period in the Hague Convention is not a statute of limitation, and thus equitable tolling cannot be used. Finally, the Court reasoned that without the presumption of equitable tolling, the Convention does not support any extension of the one year period.