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Child custody dispute goes international, Supreme Court steps in

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In most situations, a couple going through a divorce in Maryland will have many different issues to decide. The issues can be difficult to discuss, and too often disputes between the divorcing couple can lead to contentious litigation and unsatisfactory resolutions. Further, most people probably know that, if children are involved, the child custody dispute can be the worst issue to deal with. One man is learning just how challenging the child custody issue can be, as his custody dispute heads for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The man, a sergeant in the United States Army, has challenged a ruling by a U.S. District Court judge that, according to an international treaty known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, his five-year-old daughter should live in Scotland with her mother. The sergeant has filed for divorce from his wife, and the ensuing child custody rulings have been complicated. He appealed the decision by the District Court to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but that court dismissed the appeal because the young girl was already living in Scotland.

The sergeant appears to be equating the whole situation to an international abduction. He claims that to hold to the decisions which have thus far been made in his case would essentially lead to a parent being denied custody rights in the case of an international abduction.

The U.S. Supreme Court has accepted the case, apparently to end the conflicting opinions amongst the various appellate courts which have dealt with similar issues involving international treaties and child custody. Only time will tell whether this father will prevail in his legal arguments, but hopefully the end result is in the best interests of the child.

Child custody cases, be that in Maryland, Scotland, Alabama or anywhere else, can become very complicated. It is critical that if an individual in Maryland is seeking custody of their children, that individual align themselves with an advocate that will defend their rights as a parent.

Source: Reuters, "Supreme Court to hear int'l child custody dispute," Jonathan Stempel and Terry Baynes, Aug. 13, 2012

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