Thursday, December 6, 2012
The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in Chafin v. Chafin, a case involving an international child custody dispute under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to which the US is a party. The case involves an American military dad and a Scottish mom who got divorced. The lower US court granted the mom custody and allowed her to return to Scotland with the child. The dad appealed the court's decision, including its finding that Scotland was the habitual residence of the child because the family had moved around due to the father's military service. However, the appellate court dismissed the case as moot because the mom and child had already left the US. The issue on appeal is whether US courts still have jurisdiction when the child has been removed from the country. U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals are split on the issue. In oral argument, the justices questioned whether courts should issue orders delaying a parent from leaving the country in such cases to give the other parent time to appeal.