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Texas military man’s international child custody dispute

An international child custody dispute did not turn out in the way that a military member had hoped. The Lieutenant Colonel who also happened to be a member of the air force had attempted to have the child returned to the United States while the mother and child lived in England.

The couple was originally married in Texas back in 2005. Though the immigrant mother was in the United States legally, she has since been allowed to stay in the United Kingdom. The child was born in 2006 and the father filed for divorce from the child’s mother in 2008. Soon after, the father was deployed to Afghanistan.

A series of child custody hearings took place after this. Though the father was awarded custody of the child at the trial court, the mother appealed the U.S. Judge’s ruling. The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction protects children from being taken from one country to another by parents. However, the mother claimed that the child’s habitual country of residence had become England as the child had continuously lived in the United Kingdom with his mother since July of 2008. The mother was then awarded custody.

The father appealed this decision in the United States Court of Appeal and was once again awarded custody, but the mother refused to return the boy to the father. The father then attempted to gain custody of the child in England, but his bid was unsuccessful.

Child custody disputes always involve a large number of issues, and international child custody circumstances make such issues more complex. This will require interpretations of state, federal and international law, and require additional considerations that come into play when parents reside in two different countries. Anyone with questions will obviously need to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.

The one common theme among all child custody circumstances should be in the making of determinations as to what will best benefit the child.

Marilyn Stowe Blog, “Father loses appeal against ex-wife’s refusal to return their child,” July 21, 2013

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