International Law

2 Small Law Firms Face Trial for Allegedly Aiding Parental Child Abduction

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Two New Jersey attorneys and their matrimonial firms are facing a looming trial in a high-profile family law case that centers on a client’s transport of her then-4-year-old child to her native Spain, in violation of a United States parenting agreement.

The agreement also called for the lawyer initially representing the child’s mother, Maria Jose Carrascosa, to hold the child’s U.S. passport. But when Carrascosa switched to new counsel, her former lawyer, solo Mitchell Liebowitz of West Caldwell, messengered the passport to attorney Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich of Hackensack, reports the New Jersey Law Journal in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer.

Now both are embroiled in civil litigation filed by the child’s father, Peter Innes.

Marzano-Lesnevich, who is represented by her husband and law partner, Walter Lesnevich, says she never agreed to hold the child’s passport and also had no knowledge of the passport provision, among other defense arguments, the article recounts.

Liebowitz, who is represented by William O’Connor of McElroy Deutsch Mulvaney & Carpenter in Morristown, says he acted properly by turning over the passport to Marzano-Lesnevich.

Meanwhile, a Spanish court has required, in a parallel action, that the now-10-year-old girl remain in Spain, where she is living with her maternal grandparents. And Carrascosa, following the denial of her habeas petition by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is serving a 14-year contempt sentence in New Jersey for failing to turn the child over, which has been the subject of considerable criticism in Spain, the article recounts.

New Jersey and Spanish judges have met at the Hague in an attempt to resolve the international custody impasse, to no avail.

The child at the center of the dispute, Victoria Innes, is a named plaintiff in the case and is represented by solo Michael Casale, the legal publication reports. He describes the dispute as “a sad, tragic case that should never have happened.”

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