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U.S. Supreme Court to decide international child custody case

Residents of Pennsylvania may know some people who have married citizens of other countries, especially those who have served overseas in the military. If these people become involved in divorce proceedings, child custody issues may implicate an international treaty. This treaty protects children from being taken wrongfully to other countries. Presently, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering one such child custody dispute, where the parents are of different nationalities. This case may not only affect the parties involved, but may also affect any similar cases in the future.

According to sources, the father of the child, a military man, married a woman from Scotland. The mother and child stayed in Scotland for some time while the father was stationed in various places. Eventually, the family moved to the U.S. for a period of time. The parties filed for divorce and the main issue of contention was the custody of their child. A lower court ordered that the mother could return to Scotland with the child, which she immediately did.

The father appealed the lower court ruling to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but it was dismissed as moot. Later, the father asked the Supreme Court to consider the matter. The mother subsequently filed for child custody in a Scottish court. According to her, the U.S. courts no longer have the authority to issue child custody rulings in the case. However, it was also reported that the Scottish courts would take any U.S. court ruling into consideration. Currently, the issue remains undecided pending a ruling of the Supreme Court.

While deciding issues on child custody, a court will take note of what is in the best interests of the child. The court also will take note of various other factors before making a decision, all related to the child's best interests.

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

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