Croatia: US ‘divorce by email’ father awaits child access human rights judgement

An American, ‘divorced by email’ by his Croatian wife, hopes to win the support of Strasbourg judges when they rule on his human rights complaint later this week.

A European Court of Human Rights judgement in the case Adžić v. Croatia (no. 22643/14) will be published on Thursday 12 March.

The applicant, Miomir Adžić, is a national of the United States of America who was born in 1968 and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina (the United States of America).

Adžić’s case concerns the length of court proceedings in Croatia in response to his request for the return of his son to the United States of America.

Adžić married a Croatian national in 2008 and later that year the couple had a son. His wife and son moved to the United States of America to join him in 2009.

In 2011 Adžić’s wife and son went to Croatia for the summer. However instead of returning to America, his wife sent him an email informing him that they were to stay in Croatia and that she was seeking a divorce.

A week later Adžić began his efforts to have his son returned to him, making a request via the Croatian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare that his wife voluntarily return the boy and later requesting his return under the terms of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

His wife was opposed to returning the child either with or without her. The Ministry forwarded Adžić’s request to the Zagreb Municipal Court, which instituted proceedings for the return of his son.

In March 2012 this court dismissed Adžić’s request.

He successfully appealed this decision and argued for the appointment of a new judge in the case. The case was remitted and assigned to a new judge in January 2013 and new reports, expert opinions and information on the child and his welfare gathered.

In May 2014, the Zagreb Municipal Civil Court again dismissed Adžić’s case and the Zagreb County Court upheld the ruling in October 2014. The case is currently pending before the Constitutional Court.

In November 2014 the Supreme Court dismissed his parallel case which concerned the length of time it was taking to secure a proper hearing.

Relying in particular on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Adžić complains about the excessive length of the proceedings – having so far lasted more than three years – for the return of his son under the Hague Convention.

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