New US Supreme Court Decision on Parental Kidnapping

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Parental child abduction is an unfortunate side effect of our global community. International travel is easy, accessible to many, and frequently, not cost-prohibitive. Whether for work or for pleasure, people relocate, set roots in a foreign jurisdiction – new home. However, sometimes bliss does not last, and people find themselves looking for their way home. When a scenario like that involves children, where is home?

On February 25, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a long-awaited decision defining “habitual residence” in The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention). While habitual residence is among key considerations in application and analysis of The Hague Convention cases, the term itself was not defined in The Hague Convention or the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), which implemented The Hague Convention in the United States. Until this opinion, the term also had been interpreted by the Supreme Court. Lack of direction from The Hague Convention, ICARA, and the Supreme Court, had resulted in split circuits’ definition, and much debate in the International Family Law community.

The SCOTUS concluded that a child’s habitual residence depends on the particular circumstances of each case. SCOTUS noted that no single factor is dispositive of all cases, and there are no categorical requirements for establishing a child’s habitual residence. Read the full opinion HERE

Here at Nancy Zalusky Berg Family Law, we are experienced in successfully handling the difficult experience of parental child abduction under The Hague Convention, as well as UCCJEA. We have served many parents who have gone through this experience and offer our legal expertise to our clients. Learn more about our experience in Interstate and International Family Law HERE

By Ruta Johnsen, Associate