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U. S. Supreme Court Decides in Favor of American Father in Custody Dispute

By Sheryl Rentz on March 28, 2013

United States Supreme Court Justice Roberts, in a recently written opinion, returned a decision regarding an international custody dispute in favor of an American father.  As reported in The Huffington Post and published on March 5, the Court held that American federal courts’ jurisdiction does not terminate just because the child has been returned to another country.  No longer can a child be taken from his or her home to a different country thereby escaping American state and federal courts.

The Court’s ruling indicated that just because a child crosses U.S. boundaries does not mean that the custody of that child falls outside U.S. courts’ jurisdiction.

Facts Reviewed

The case centered on a five-year old girl whose mother is Scottish and whose father is an American sergeant.  During the father’s deployment in Afghanistan, the mother lived with the child in her native country — Scotland.  Mother and child did reunite with the father upon his return to Alabama.  Then the mother decided to return with the child to Scotland.

The father argues that the country of habitual residence of his daughter should be the U.S., while the mother still argues that her daughter’s habitual residence is Scotland.

Decision Summary

The Court restated the importance of the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully taken to another country.  It is considered important that children in custody proceedings are not shuttled around the world.  The attorney for the father has no doubt that the little girl will be ordered to be returned to the U.S. by Scottish courts when asked.

Family Law Attorney Sheryl R. Rentz Can Help

Pennsylvania family lawyer Sheryl R. Rentz wants parents who may be going through a divorce to be informed about court decisions that have an impact on child custody issues. Call us at (610) 645-0100 to allow us to help you with child custody arrangements.

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