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U.S. May Retain Jurisdiction In International Custody Matters

U.S. May Retain Jurisdiction In International Custody Matters

International child custody matters are within the scope of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and dictates that the governing body returning a child to another country retains jurisdiction over the matter in certain cases. The International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) grants the United States concurrent jurisdiction and enables the United States to direct foreign courts to utilize Hague Convention protocol in deciding international custody matters. In, Chafin v. Chafin, a case where petitioner, a U.S. citizen, and respondent, a citizen of England, married in Germany and had a daughter while residing there. Petitioner was in the military and respondent relocated with the child to Scotland then Alabama as the petitioner was reassigned for military duty. While residing in Alabama, respondent filed for divorce, including custody. The respondent sought to return the child to Scotland. The district court found the child’s “country of habitual residence”, which is typically considered the location the child should be unless circumstances dictate otherwise, and granted respondent’s request. Once in Scotland, respondent initiated custody proceedings. On review, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the continued pursuit of the matter by petitioner did not foreclose the U.S. from participation in the custody matter as jurisdiction of the U.S. courts was never extinguished by lapse of time or for other reason. Respondent was held to be within continued personal jurisdiction of the United States courts. If you are seeking to remove a child from or have a child returned to another state or territory, you should consult an experienced family law attorney immediately in order to protect your rights. For more information on relocating with children, child custody, child support, enforcement, modification, alimony, divorce, dissolution of civil union or domestic partnership, custody or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter.

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