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U.S. still has jurisdiction in international child custody cases

It is not uncommon for Americans from Charlotte to fall in love with someone in another country. However, such marriages can create legal difficulties if that couple later divorces and a child custody dispute arises. Often, if a parent has not become a U.S. citizen, they may desire to take that child back with them to their home country. This can create issues when it comes to parenting time for the American parent and that parent may decide to take legal action to prevent the child from leaving.

A Scottish citizen used the 1980 Hague convention on international child abductions to convince a federal judge that the U.S. had no jurisdiction in her desire to take her child back with her to Scotland; the child was born there and the mother claimed that it was the child's place of residence. Her ex-husband, a soldier in the U.S. Army, appealed to the Supreme Court after an appeals court told him that he would need to take his case to the courts in Scotland.

The Supreme Court however, disagreed. In the ruling, one of the justices pointed out that U.S. courts do have jurisdiction in international child custody cases. While the justice did point out that the likelihood of a U.S. Court order being followed in another country was slim, it did not mean that an American parent could not pursue the matter in a U.S. court.

This case is an important one because it affects any parent, including parents in Charlotte, with children who were born in another country to a spouse who is a citizen of that same country. Any American parent who is seeking sole custody of a foreign-born child may want to speak with an attorney to understand their rights.

Source: 50 WVNSTV, " Court: US custody case not moot with child abroad," Jesse J. Holland, Feb. 19, 2013

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