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U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear International Child Custody Case

The Supreme Court of the United States has started the process of determining which cases will be heard during the next term, slated to end in June 2013. This week, the high court agreed to hear a custody battle involving a father who is a United States citizen and a mother who is a citizen of Scotland.

Currently, the five-year-old girl lives in Scotland with her mother. The father, a U.S. army sergeant, has appealed a lower court ruling that led to the custody arrangement.

Since 2007, the mother and daughter lived together in Scotland. While the parents were married at the time, the father was unable to live with them due to his job responsibilities. Based on court records, both mother and daughter traveled to Alabama to visit the father and make an effort to salvage the marriage. The couple was unsuccessful, and the mother had to return to Scotland, as her visa had already expired.

A state judge in Alabama granted custody of the child to the father. After the mother appealed, a U.S. district judge, referring to the "Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction," ordered the daughter to be sent to Scotland, as he ruled it was her "habitual residence."

Continuing the proceedings, the father filed an appeal, which the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed. The court reasoned that the issue could no longer be considered, as the child had already returned to Scotland.

The Supreme Court will have a number of issues to consider that are not typically seen in domestic custody disputes, including how it will enforce its decision as the child currently lives in Scotland.

Source: Reuters, "Supreme Court to Hear Intl. Custody Dispute," Andrew Lu, August 14, 2012.

Our firm handles child custody disputes. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Utah child custody page.

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