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International child custody dispute tried at U.S. Supreme Court

Issues regarding an international child custody matter are being considered by the United States Supreme Court. This matter all began when an American soldier married a woman that lived in Scotland while her husband was deployed to Afghanistan.

Following the deployment, the family lived together in the United States until the husband sought a divorce. The mother then asked a federal judge to allow her and her daughter to Scotland under the Hague Convention – the Hague Convention requiring courts to issue custody decisions in the nation of the child’s “habitual residence.” The federal judge ruled that the child’s residence should be considered Scotland.

The father now wants to appeal this matter in the American appellate courts, and the Supreme Court is deciding whether such an appeal would even be proper. Part of the problem is that the husband had been ordered to pay approximately $94,000 in legal fees concerning this child custody dispute, and there is now a question as to whether the order of this award would be eliminated.

International child custody matters almost always involve extremely complex issues for clients and attorneys, and often the matters concern other issues than what’s in the immediate best interest of the child. There needs to be a degree of fairness to both the father and mother in these sorts of disputes, and often arguments are made that will protect clients from unnecessary financial loss.

Such side issues are often unavoidable. The handling of these sorts of issues needs to be conducted by attorneys that can maneuver through a tangle of state, federal and international laws.

Source: The New York Times, “Custody Case in Scotland Goes Before U.S. Justices,” by Adam Liptak, Dec. 5, 2012

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