Case of the Day: Cunningham v. Cunningham

I’m happy to welcome a new guest-poster and fellow blogger, Nathan Park of Kobre Kim, who brings us a short discussion of Cunningham v. Cunningham (M.D. Fla. 2017). Welcome, Nathan!


This case follows a proceeding in which plaintiff ex-wife sued the defendants ex-husband and his current wife, in order to secure return of the child between ex-wife and ex-husband from U.S. to Japan, back to ex-wife’s custody. The court previously ordered the child to be returned to the ex-wife pursuant to Hague Convention on Child Abduction. On the day the ex-wife was supposed to be on the flight back to Japan with a child, the defendants filed the motion to stay the order.

The court denied the stay motion, noting that the ex-wife and the child likely left the United States already. Further, the court found the stay motion to be an attempt to re-litigate the previous proceeding.


Hello, readers of Letters Blogatory! This is Nathan Park from the law blog, Asia in U.S. Courts. Many thanks to Ted Folkman for hosting me here. Here is a little sample of what you can see at my blog.

Asia in U.S. Courts broadly covers any case involving Asia in some manner, including not only parties from Asia, but also cases involving events arising from Asia or recent immigrants from Asia. Here, I present a personal favorite—international family law. As an international litigator, I find international family law litigation like this case fascinating, although family law is not my practice

International family law is fascinating because of the way in which it resolves all the thorny problems in international litigation. Cunningham is not a complicated case, but imagine how complicated this case would have been if it were a commercial litigation. There were two potential jurisdictions—Japan and the United States—which might have led to parallel litigation and anti-suit injunctions. If one of the courts issued a judgment, the other court may be called to deny the enforcement of the judgment in its own forum. (For example, if the Japanese court issued a judgment first, the losing party in Japan might come to a U.S. court to deny enforcement of that judgment in the United States.)

These are common problems in international litigation; in fact, these are the raison d’être of private international law. But none of this occurs in this case. Why? Because the Hague Convention already allocates jurisdiction among different countries, and national courts strongly defer to upholding the result. What could have been a complicated litigation becomes simpler because of a strong private international law treaty and the legal norms that have been built around that treaty. For practitioners who wreck their brains trying to deal with problems arising from multiple jurisdictions, international family law offers an elegant and orderly ecosystem of the law.

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