Child Custody Dispute Becomes International Matter

As many Houston parents likely know, a child custody dispute is often the most divisive issue in a divorce. Child custody arrangements become even more complex, however, when the parents live in different countries, as the following account shows.

The United States Supreme Court is considering whether U.S. law still applies to an international child custody case. The case involves an American soldier, his Scottish wife and their young daughter. The decision will determine if the father can appeal the decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow the mother to return to Scotland with the couple's daughter.

Several justices on the Supreme Court have expressed concern that a parent born in another country could escape United States jurisdiction simply by leaving the country. This could lead to a scenario where parents get on a plane as soon as they receive a favorable custody ruling, even when that ruling is not the end of the legal process in the custody dispute.

The mother's attorney in this case said that a U.S. court could not order the mother's return to the United States, and the father would have to argue his case in a Scottish court. The couple married in 2006 and separated in 2010, resulting in the mother's deportation to Scotland in February 2011.

Courts ultimately base decisions in child custody cases on the best interest of the child. Legal strategies in these cases often involve collecting the evidence needed to present your side to the court. If involved in a complex child custody dispute, speaking to an experienced attorney may be beneficial.

Source: KHOU, "Justices struggle with international custody law," Dec. 5, 2012

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