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Will Supreme Court Opinion Affect St. Paul Parents?

There has been a lot of talk lately about the United States Supreme Court. Its upcoming opinions on gay marriage are especially anticipated. But while this topic garners a lot of attention, the Supreme Court continues to interpret laws on a wide variety of subjects that affect Americans' daily lives.

For many Twin City residents, the most important part of their lives is their families, especially their children. And although most family law is state law, the U.S. Supreme Court has some control over the laws that affect families and child custody. Recently, the Court issued a ruling that could have significant effects on multi-national parenting situations.

The case arose between an American military officer and his Scottish wife. The couple divorced in 2010 and the mother took the child with her back to her native Scotland. The man sought custody but a federal appeals court ruled his challenge was moot because the child had been in Scotland for over one year. In essence, he was told his only recourse was in a Scottish court.

The Supreme Court, however, reversed this decision and held that U.S. courts do not lose jurisdiction over child custody disputes just because the child is living overseas. The opinion gives American parents hope that they can secure and challenge custody rights without having to go to a foreign jurisdiction.

Though many parents will never encounter this dilemma, it arises more than most people think. Fortunately, local St. Paul attorneys understand how the family courts handle these types of issues. When getting a divorce or going through a custody battle it is important in some cases to know how things will play out if one of the parents ends up living abroad. As a result, of the Supreme Court's ruling, parents in a similar situation will no longer risk losing their right to litigate custody in an American courtroom.

Source: Star Tribune, "Supreme Court says US courts still have work to do in international child custody case," Jesse Holland, February 19, 2013

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