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U.S. Supreme Court grapples with international child custody case

Divorce can by a trying affair. In addition to questions of property division and child support, separating couples most often address child custody concerns. If divorcing spouses can agree between each other on whether one will have sole custody or the two will share joint custody, a judge often need not intervene.

However, as it is true in most cases, many separating couples cannot agree on questions of custody and as such the U.S. court system must step in. Most courts, including those in California, determine child custody issues based on the best interests of the child. The court will then issue an order identifying with which parent the child or children will spend their time.

However, when international issues come into play, it is often much more difficult for a court to rule on the matter. For one U.S. solider and the United States' highest court, this is exactly the problem. The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a case involving the solider and his ex wife. The solider and woman married back in the 2006 in Scotland. A year later they had a daughter. They later ended up in Alabama where they agreed to divorce. The woman was shortly thereafter deported.

She pled with the court to allow her take the girl with her back to Scotland. Her wish was granted. Now the U.S. solider is pleading with the justices to allow him to appeal the decision. A major concern is the child's interests.

The child laws within the international Hague Convention play a role in this case. The purpose of the law is to prevent any child from being shuffled from country to country. One justice believes that the solider is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to do something in direct contradiction with the Hague Convention. Yet, other justices may not agree.

The court has yet to issue its decision. The ruling could affect any individual wrapped up in a divorce with international custody issues at play.

Source: The Washington Post, "Justices consider court role in international custody cases," Robert Barnes, Dec. 5, 2012

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