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International child custody battle will continue

Massachusetts parents whose children have been moved to another country may be encouraged by a recent case. In the case, a U.S. Army sergeant is fighting for child custody of his young daughter. The sergeant married a woman from another country and they had one daughter. The mother took the girl back to her native land after their divorce.

The father is fighting for custody of his daughter, but there is a precedent on how to proceed with international child custody. A treaty called the Hague Convention was established between 80 countries. It mandates that children involved in custody disputes should be returned to their country of “habitual” residence. This prevents drawn-out cases that bounce children back and forth from countries and residences.

However, as the U.S. Army sergeant has discovered, the Hague Convention doesn’t necessarily exclude him from pursuing a child custody case. A federal court said that his custody request was not applicable, because the girl was in another country. However, the sergeant said that the custody battle had begun in American courts and were never finalized there. He received support from the Supreme Court to continue pursuing his case, even though the child is currently living in Scotland with her mother.

The outcome of this child custody case could affect the precedent set for many similar cases in the future. The Supreme Court’s unexpected support could mean that more international child custody cases will be resolved more positively for United States parents. Even when children are removed from the country, there is still hope for regaining custody. Massachusetts parents who take steps to pursue child custody disputes have many possibilities open to them.

Source:, “Supreme Court says overseas custody fight can continue,” Bill Mears, Feb. 19, 2013

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