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Supreme Court Grants Father Custodial Right in International Child Custody Case

David Pisarra Jan. 21, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court granted a non-custodial father rights to determine where his child will live. In the case of ABBOTT V. ABBOTT, full text here, the Supreme Court agreed with the father that when the Chilean government issued a Ne Exeat order, which prevented his ex-wife from leaving Chile with their son without the father’s written permission, that it was a custodial right.

In applying the United States of America INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION REMEDIES ACT (ICARA) according to the standards of the HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION to which both the U.S and Chile are signatories, the court found that the father did have a custodial right, and therefore the mother had wrongfully removed the child from Chile when she relocated to Texas without the father’s consent.

Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy:

As the parties agree, the Convention applies to this dispute. A. J. A. is under 16 years old; he was a habitual resident of Chile; and both Chile and the United States are contracting states. The question is whether A. J. A. was “wrongfully removed” from Chile, in other words, whether he was removed in violation of a right of custody. This Court’s inquiry is shaped by the text of the Convention; the views of the United States Department of State; decisions addressing the meaning of “rights of custody” in courts of other contracting states; and the purposes of the Convention. After considering these sources, the Court determines that Mr. Abbott’s ne exeat right is a right of custody under the Convention.

The court ruling that mother has violated father’s rights is nice win for responsible co-parenting.