Military father's child custody dispute heard by Supreme Court

Child custody disputes are rarely simple cases. The courts must weigh the best interests of the child with the parental rights on both sides of the case. When a child custody battle goes to international shores, the complexities increase. Our Morris County readers might find that a recent case involving an military father shows just how complex these cases can be when one parent is not an American.

On Dec. 5, the Supreme Court heard arguments from a U.S. Army sergeant who is seeking custody of his daughter. The soldier married and had a child with a Scottish woman. According to court papers, the mother and daughter were living away from the father in Scotland since 2007 because of the father's job in the military.

When the couple filed for divorce in 2010, the mother sued to have her daughter returned to Scotland with her, citing the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. A federal judge in Alabama, where the father lived, granted her custody, and the mother and child returned to Scotland together.

The father appealed that decision, and the case eventually ended up in the Supreme Court. Several of the justices expressed concerns that supporting this lower court ruling would encourage other parents in similar situations to simply jump on a plane and return to their home country, stripping the American parent of his or her rights. A final ruling is expected by June 2013.

Whether a parent is dealing with an international child custody dispute or simply looking to protect standard parental rights here in New Jersey, the law can be complicated. Being familiar with the applicable laws is crucial to helping a parent protect visitation rights and the best interests of the child. Emotions can be strong in these cases, and that is why being fully informed of the rights and responsibilities of the parents in child custody disputes is so important.

Source: Yahoo! News, "Supreme Court steps into international custody battle," Terry Baynes, Dec. 5, 2012