Attorney Translation Services, Child Custody
and Clean Hands Doctrine

Legal Document Translation for International Divorce Cases

We’ve blogged about the important role of professional legal translation services in international divorces, child custody disputes and in international child custody cases. In the case Uzoh v Uzoh (N.D. Ill. 5/2/12), the Illinois court sent a newborn child to a country he had never been to but where his parents undisputedly lived when he was born. The court’s reasoning? It was found that the parents’ joint actions and intent were that the boy would be born in the US in order to become a citizen, thereafter returning to the family’s residence in England.

The court reached this conclusion under the Unclean Hands doctrine. It rejected the petitioners’ motion for relief, stating that they had ‘unclean hands’. However, although there is a rule in equity cases that if one asks the court for something they must have clean hands themselves, no such rule exists under the Hague Convention. Thus the court stated: “It is not appropriate to consider the details of the parties’ messy domestic disputes beyond their relevance to those defenses explicitly provided by the Hague Convention”.

This ruling could have a profound effect on international law as ‘unclean hands’ is often raised as a defense in similar cases – with the unclean acts occurring in a foreign country where various foreign languages and dialects are spoken. Before, to demonstrate this defense certified legal translations were required. In light of this ruling, it will be interesting to see if this defense will remain popular.

Up Next: Certified Legal Translations for International Litigation and Multilingual eDiscovery