US judge orders girl returned to Sweden

DES MOINES – A federal judge in Iowa on Wednesday again ordered a woman to return her young daughter to Sweden, where they lived until last year, so that the girl can be reacquainted with her father.

Judge James Gritzner, of the U.S. District Court in Des Moines, issued a ruling Friday reaffirming his May ruling in which he found that Raina Anderung had been wrongfully keeping her 3-year-old daughter in the U.S. since last August. He ordered Anderung to fly her daughter back to Sweden within 20 days.

The girl’s father and Anderung’s ex-husband, Magnus Anderung, had joint custody of his daughter in Sweden and sued for her return in February, claiming his ex-wife took their daughter on what was supposed to have been a 90-day trip to visit her mother in Pleasantville, but then decided to stay. He claimed his ex-wife’s actions violated an international treaty the U.S. and Sweden adhere to that outlines child custody rules between countries, the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

In May, Gritzner ruled that Raina Anderung had taken her daughter from the only country where the girl had ever lived to one that was completely foreign to her, and he ordered the girl returned to Sweden.

He granted Raina Anderung a stay so that she could appeal, and on June 10 he held a hearing in which she argued that she had additional evidence to present that would weigh in her favor, that she didn’t have the money to fly her daughter back to Sweden and that she’d lose her job in Iowa if she herself returned there.

Gritzner found none of the new evidence compelling enough to overturn his ruling, and said allowing further delays wouldn’t be fair to the girl’s father, who has been staying in Iowa because of the custody battle. He said Raina Anderung is responsible for paying for her daughter’s return, and that she’s welcome to return to Sweden herself if she chooses.

Magnus Anderung asked the court Monday to release his daughter’s passport, which the court had been holding pending the outcome of the case.

“The court’s most recent ruling ordering (the girl’s) return to Sweden will result in the long-awaited reunion of parent and child,” said Stacey Warren, the attorney for the girl’s father.

Raina Anderung’s attorney, Brian Rickert, declined to comment about the case, including whether she planned to appeal Wednesday’s ruling.