United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Donald C. Coggins, Jr., United States District
December 19, 2018, the Court granted Petitioner's
Verified Petition, which was filed pursuant to the Convention
on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the
"Hague Convention") and the International Child
Abduction Remedies Act ("ICARA"), 22 U.S.C.
§§ 9001-11. The Order requires the immediate return
of A.V., a twelve-year-old child (the "Child"),
his habitual residence of Hidalgo, Mexico. Following the
issuance of the Order, Petitioner filed a Motion for Costs,
Respondent filed a Response, and Petitioner filed a Reply.
ECF Nos. 65, 67, 68. The Court has reviewed the submissions
of the parties, supporting documentation, and relevant law.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies
26 of the Hague Convention permits a court to award expenses
to a prevailing party "where
appropriate." Hague Convention, Art. 26. Similarly,
ICARA allows for an award of costs, stating in relevant part:
Any court ordering the return of a child pursuant to an
action brought under [ICARA] shall order the respondent to
pay necessary expenses incurred by or on behalf of the
petitioner, including court costs, legal fees, foster home or
other care during the course of proceedings in the action,
and transportation costs related to the return of the child,
unless the respondent establishes that such order would be
22 U.S.C. § 9007(b)(3). Although the Fourth Circuit has
not spoken on the issue, other courts have interpreted this
statutory provision to give district courts "broad
discretion" to determine when an award of costs is
appropriate. See, e.g., West v. Dobrev, 735 F.3d
921, 932 (10th Cir. 2013) (noting the "broad
discretion" conferred by ICARA); Whallon v.
Lynn, 356 F.3d 138, 140 (1st Cir. 2004) ("We also
read the statute as giving the district court broad
discretion in its effort to comply with the Hague Convention
consistently with our own laws and standards.").
to the substance of Petitioner's request, he seeks $13,
521.97 in costs, including interpretation fees, translation
expenses, and other related litigation expenses. The Court
has reviewed the records submitted by counsel and finds these
costs to be reasonable in light of the nature and complexity
of this case. Nonetheless, the Court must consider the
totality of the circumstances in determining whether an award
of costs is "clearly inappropriate." Here,
Respondent is indisputably indigent and has a large family to
support in the United States. In the event Respondent was
even able to pay costs, it would be to the detriment of her
other children. Furthermore, Respondent relies entirely on
her partner's finances, as she does not make any income.
Additionally, this case presented a very close question, as
the Court's Order makes abundantly clear. Finally,
Petitioner's counsel served in a pro bono
capacity. There is no question that Petitioner's counsel
have spent considerable time and money during this
representation; however, the Court must consider the fact
that Petitioner has not personally incurred any costs.
Court recognizes that the law firms involved in this case
participated in a pro bono capacity and have
received no remuneration for their work. However, this Court
must exercise its broad discretion to determine whether cost
shifting is appropriate under the relevant law. Considering
the unique circumstances of this case and financial
conditions of the parties, the Court finds it would be
"clearly inappropriate" to award Petitioner costs.
See in re Application of Stead v. Menduno, 77
F.Supp.3d 1029, 1038 (D. Co. 2014) ("The Court finds
that an award of filing fees and deposition costs is
inappropriate in this [Hague Convention] matter, given the
petitioner's pro bono representation and respondent's
relatively low salary, total savings of slightly over $2,
000, the fact that respondent spends 80% of her income on
housing, and the fact that most of her other expenses relate
to providing for [the child].").
 Petitioner is the Child's father,
and Respondent is the Child's mother.
 "Upon ordering the return of a
child . . . the judicial or administrative authorities may,
where appropriate, direct the person who removed or retained
the child, or who prevented the exercise of rights of access,
to pay necessary expenses incurred by or on behalf of ...