22 February 2013

Law in Plain English: Chafin v. Chafin

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

Chafin v. Chafin

Mr. Chafin, an American military member, married Ms. Chafin, a British citizen, in Germany. They had one child. After several moves and deployments, they filed for divorce. Ms. Chafin was deported to Scotland and filed a petition under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), which is a federal law that implements the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The District Court agreed that the child belonged in Scotland and returned the child there. Mr. Chafin appealed to get the child returned to the United States, but the Court of Appeals ruled that once the child was taken to Scotland, courts within the United States were powerless to act. The question in this case was whether Mr. Chafin's appeal was moot after the child was returned to Scotland. The Supreme Court ruled that the return of the child to Scotland under the Hague Convention did not moot Mr. Chafin's case. As a result, the case will return to a lower court where Mr. Chafin can fight for custody of his child.
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