Have you ever threatened an ex-spouse while fighting a custody battle?
Here's some advice. You can think that your former husband is a schmuck. And you can wonder privately why you ever married that jerk of a woman in the first place.
But you don't want to publicly call your ex-spouse a profane version of blockhead. And you never want to take a gun to him, his extended family, or his girlfriend.
Take the case of Hayet Naser Gomez (Naser), the mother of M.N, and the father Alfredo Jose Salvi Fuenmayor (Salvi). In this situation, the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit had to determine whether threats of violence against a parent could constitute "a grave risk of harm to a child" under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Here's the story.
Mother Lobs Threats - and Worse - Against Ex-Partner
Naser and Salvi were never married, but they did share custody of their daughter, M.N. The threats against Naser began four years ago. That's when Naser's current husband, Anibangel Molina Anais (Molina), and Naser began to threaten Salvi and his family in a serious manner than went beyond name-calling.
But let's go back even further. Before the threats occurred, Naser and Molina decided to leave Venezuela and brought their daughter with them to Florida.
At some point, Salvi wanted to return to Venezuela and filed a petition under the Hague Convention to take his daughter back with him and to have custody of her. He won that case, with Naser obtaining visitation rights provided a court-appointed supervisor was present.
Threats Begin While Living in the U.S.
In front of the supervisor, Karina Lapa, Naser threatened Salvi. Naser went so far as to say that "something was going to happen" to Salvi. Upon hearing this, Lapa naturally started to worry about the girl's safety.
Meanwhile, Naser's husband, Molina, faced a U.S. grand jury in 2013 for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He managed to leave the United States while out on bail, fleeing back to Venezuela.
Venezuelan Court Back's U.S. Custody Decision
Once everyone was back in Venezuela, a court there ordered a continuation of the U.S. court's custody arrangement. Unhappy with that decision, and while still in the courtroom, Naser threatened to kill Salvi.
Just three days later, Claudia Poblete (Salvi's girlfriend) was shot and struck three times by bullets while driving home from a birthday party. Officials discovered that additional bullet holes were found on the side of the car, the passenger seat's headrest, and above the child seat.
The girl's mother then had the audacity to tell officials that she feared for her daughter's life because evidently someone was trying to kill her former partner.
Unfortunately, the violence didn't end there.
Father Loses Custody Over Bid to Remove Daughter from Venezuela
Several people broke into the home of Salvi's parents, and spray painted the car with this message: "You are going to die." Then the thugs responsible for the vandalism left cocaine in the mother's car.
Next, they began to target Salvi's sister.
In February 2014, Salvi managed to obtain Naser's permission to take their daughter out of Venezuela. But since the Venezuelan court had prohibited the removal of his daughter from Venezuela, the court revoked Salvi's custody rights.
He is now seeking asylum here with his daughter and extended family.
In 2015, a district court decided that Salvi wrongfully removed his daughter from Venezuela and that taking M.N. to the U.S. violated Naser's visitation rights. However, the court didn't require that Salvi return his daughter to Venezuela.
Courts Worry About "Grave Risk of Harm" to the Daughter
In fact, the court decided that returning M.N. to Venezuela would cause "a grave risk of harm" to the girl. The court came to this conclusion:
"The evidence has established that [Naser] and Molina directly made threats, and the evidence also supports the finding that it is highly probable that [Naser] and Molina were involved in the acts of violence against [Salvi] and his family. These acts of violence, although not specifically directed at the child, placed her in a perilous position with a high risk of danger."
Once again displeased with the court's decision, Naser filed an appeal.
The appellate court accepted the same conclusion that the district court arrived at: "... that Naser and Molina engaged in a campaign of terror against Salvi and his family that exposed him and the people close to him to a grave risk of harm."
In the end, the appellate court affirmed the district court's decision: that M.N. would face serious risk if she were ever returned to Venezuela. Thus, she gets to stay in the United States with her father, who retained custody rights.