Rare Child Custody Case Makes It To Supreme CourtDecember 22, 2012
With only one percent of all court cases even presented to the United States Supreme Court and with only a very small fraction of that percentage involving family law, it is rare a child custody case is ever heard by the nation’s highest courts.
So it was a rare occasion indeed when this past summer, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case Chafin v Chafin, 11-1347 since most family law cases are usually heard in the state courts. At the beginning of December justices heard oral arguments in the case.
The case is an international custody battle and the question at stake is whether American federal appellate courts have authority to review a district court’s order returning a child to his or her habitual residence under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction once a child has left the United States.
This case involves an American military father, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Lee Chafin and a Scottish mother, Lynne Chaffin, who were married and had a daughter born in Germany with dual United States and United Kingdom citizenship. The mother and child moved to Scotland when the father was deployed to Afghanistan and established residency there, but moved to Alabama when he was transferred there to be with him.
Reportedly, not long after moving to Alabama, the couple began having marital problems and the mother got an order allowing her to move the child back to Scotland, establishing it as her “habitual residence.” The mother and daughter relocated back to Scotland. Chafin went to the 11th circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, who ruled the case was moot since the two had already moved, but that contradicts a previous ruling by the 4th circuit court. Oral arguments were heard December 5 and the court is expected to issue a decision on the matter by summer 2013.
If you are facing a child custody battle, it is imperative to secure a family attorney who can help fight for your best interests in court. Call today for your free, initial consultation.