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Supreme Court hands down decision on international custody case

When couples decide not to stay together, this decision inherently impacts their children. Sometimes custody matters are easy, especially if both parents live nearby and agree on the best course of action.

But child custody disputes can arise when one parent lives in Michigan and another lives in a different state, or even a different country. The differences in jurisdictions can create conflicting outcomes and can make custody extremely complicated. Visitation rights may not even be possible if one parent lives across the ocean.

The Supreme Court recently weighed in on one such international child custody matter and held that the father of a young girl living in Scotland could continue with his appeals process to gain custody of his daughter. The Court’s unanimously said that the matter was still active in the U.S. even though the daughter lives overseas.

The father is from Alabama and his wife was born in Scotland. She eventually returned to Scotland and took their young daughter with her. A federal court previously decided that the case should stay in Scotland since that is the girl’s “habitual residence.” The federal court also found that the issue was moot in the U.S. since the girl no longer lived here.

The dad disputed this point, stating that the custody dispute started in the U.S. but was never completed. The Supreme Court agreed with him.

This decision could shed some light on the U.S. court’s involvement in future custody fights when American law comes in conflict with international law. Regardless of whether both parents live in Michigan or one parent is here and another parent is in another location, a Michigan child custody attorney will be an excellent resource for all parties involved.

Source: CNN, “Supreme Court says overseas custody fight can continue,” Bill Mears, Feb. 21, 2013