Military father takes custody challenge to the US Supreme Court

Child custody disputes can be quite contentious — especially when one parent lives here in the United States and the other is a national in another country.

Right now a father, who is a sergeant in the U.S. Army, is challenging a lower court’s ruling that awarded custody to the mother of his daughter who lives in Scotland. His claim is that the decision to award the mother custody essentially denies the custody rights of a parent who losses a child when the other parent abducts them to another country.

In this case, the mother and father of the child were separated for some time due to the fact that the man is a sergeant in the military. Because of his job, the mother ended up moving back to Scotland. In February 2010 she returned to the U.S. in an attempt to make their marriage work. However, the father ended up filing for divorce.

The mother, who reportedly had overstayed her visa, went back to Scotland and started fighting for custody of her daughter. At this point, a state judge had already awarded custody to the father.

A U.S. District judge ended up siding with the mother and the daughter was sent back to Scotland since that was the 5-year-old’s “habitual residence.” The father appealed, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed his appeal.

Now, the case is before the U. S. Supreme Court, which is expected to reach a decision by June 2013. The outcome could end up affecting military members who are stationed in other counties and have children with non-U.S. nationals

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Supreme Court to hear international child custody dispute,” Jonathan Stempel and Terry Baynes, Aug. 13, 2012

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