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Rehder v. Rehder

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

December 19, 2014

Frank Rehder, Plaintiff,
Tanya Rehder, Defendant.


RICHARD A. JONES, District Judge.


This matter comes before the court on respondent Tanya Rehder's motion to stay proceedings pending appeal and for temporary restraining order. Dkt. # 51. Tanya is the mother of ARDR, a child who is the subject of a return order entered by this court pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Dkt. # 48. On December 15, 2014, Tanya filed a notice of appeal of that order and is seeking a stay pending a ruling by the Ninth Circuit. Dkt. # 49. For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES her motion.


The facts of this case have been fully summarized in previous orders. See, e.g., Dkt. # 48. Although the court reviewed every single email, Google Chat conversation and declaration submitted in this case (which amounted to hundreds of pages), the court did not, for obvious practical reasons, include verbatim recitations of every piece of evidence in its order. Because the present motion focuses specifically on the "consent defense" and respondent has cited to specific pieces of evidence as critical to her arguments, the court has expanded its recitation of the facts to fully address the arguments made in this motion. These additional facts relate to the parties' pre and postdeparture communications and conduct and are set forth in the timeline below:

• In May of 2008, petitioner, Frank Rehder, and respondent, Tanya Rehder, were married. Dkt. # 27, ¶ 5.
• A few years later, their son ARDR was born in Germany on September 10, 2010. Dkt. #1, ¶ 11.
• ARDR lived continuously in Germany until he was removed by his mother to Bellingham, Washington on August 19, 2013. Dkt. # 27, ¶ 13. Neither party has described the years in Germany leading up to Tanya and ARDR's departure, but it is clear that just before they left, Frank and Tanya's relationship had become increasingly strained.
• On July 13, 2013, in a heated exchange over Google Chat, Frank had told Tanya to "use my card and f____ing go to America and never come back." Dkt. # 27-2, p. 49. Tanya then responded "get focused on work - we obviously cannot focus on our relationship." Id.
• A few days later, on July 18, 2013, Frank sent Tanya an email stating "Please respect that I will no further contact anymore. If [ARDR] will get older he will find a letter at my moms house why I cannot re-live [my older son's] story again in my life and decided this way. I will care for him, but it better ends with a big pain than keeps going on with pain and no end." The email goes on to discuss Frank's poor health and the allocation of insurance money in the event of his death. Dkt. # 27-2, p. 63.
• The following day, on July 19, 2013, Tanya sent Frank an email addressing various issues between the couple. Dkt. # 27-2, pp. 61-62. She stated that she planned to return to Germany in November for three weeks and that Frank could visit with his son at that time. She also stated that she would be "100% available" to help Frank with his move out of one or both flats, shared by the couple. She also expressed concern regarding Frank's health and implored him to seek treatment. She concluded the email by stating that she would not restrict access to ARDR and that she would be available by email or phone anytime. Id.
• The following day, on July 20, 2013, Frank responded to Tanya's email implying that he believed he was going to die. Dkt. # 27-2, p. 65. He stated, "when you receive the message of my death you have to act fast and use my cards to pull all the money to the pay pal account." He also stated, "I will not check private emails anymore and marked all you[r] email addresses as spam, so I won't see them anymore. I also blocked all you email addresses on my IBM account." He concluded the email with "[f]arewell Tanya, give my boy a last big hug from me as I will not see him anymore." Id.
• It is unclear exactly what happened between July 20, 2013 and August 19, 2013 (the date of Tanya and ARDR's initial departure from Germany), but it is obvious that despite the dramatic protestations noted above, the parties did indeed speak again after July 20th.
• On August 19, 2013, Frank drove Tanya and the child to the airport in Germany. Dkt. # 27, ¶ 19; Dkt. # 27-2, p. 48. The parties dispute whether this was a permanent move: Tanya claims that it was permanent and Frank consented to it, while Frank claims it was a "relationship break" and that he allowed his son to go with his mother temporarily, until he and Tanya could work things out.
• After arriving in Washington, in September 2013, the child began attending school and also began receiving health benefits. Dkt. # 27-2, p. 86, 124.
• Just prior to the child's enrollment in school (presumably August or September 2013), Tanya informed the school that Frank eventually planned to join them in Washington. Dkt. # 25-2, pp. 21-22. Tanya also informed the school that she and the child had planned to return to Germany for three weeks in November 2013, but that they would come back to Washington in December. Id.
• On October 17, 2013, Frank sent Tanya an email, stating "Hi Tanya, thank you for the call tonight, we will have some difficult calls like we started because of all the blockage and unresolved, but I think after we hit the valley we will move up again." Dkt. # 27-2, p. 106. He also stated, "[ARDR] is like us very sensitive, but if we manage to find a way your visit in November will be all quality than all of us will benefit." Id.
• On October 17, 2013, Tanya responded to this email stating "I think it's extremely important we make this a special time for [ARDR] because that will force us to make this a special time for us (something we've never done before i.e. never taken a holiday, or a day off, or just had a commitment or focus to do nothing but having fun)." Id.
• Also on October 17, 2013, Frank sent Tanya an email stating, "Think revers[e], if [ARDR] would have stayed with me and would have went in Kindergarten in Germany while only speaking with his mother on the phone with the outlook to see his mother twice a year His Grandmother and his Father he has build his first bonds in his very important first year, which is no longer available, is the absence of both over long period taking care of him without damaging him if you look at it long term?" Dkt. # 27-2, p. 103. He goes on to say "I am not talking about changing the situation, but also looking at the ...

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