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Supreme Court to hear military family law custody case

Military families in Ohio face a number of legal challenges when it comes to issues of divorce and child custody. Military family law can become increasingly complicated when an American citizen marries a foreign national. This is especially true when child custody is at issue, and one parent wishes to relocate abroad with the child or children at the center of the debate.

One military father has fought a long and difficult child custody battle, which reached the Supreme Court on Dec. 5, 2012. At issue in the case is whether there is a right of appeal for custody in cases in which the child is no longer living within American borders. A decision is expected soon in the matter, and the outcome will have significant ramifications for the multitude of military spouses who face a similar set of circumstances.

The case began with a bitter divorce and resulting custody battle between an American servicemember and his wife, who is from Scotland. A judge originally ruled that the father had failed to prove that the child was a habitual resident of the United States, and allowed the mother to return to Scotland with the child. On appeal, the father's case was dismissed based on grounds that the United States courts do not have the proper authority to rule on an appeal that is made after a child has left the country.

The Supreme Court has now taken this military family law issue under consideration, and many military spouses will closely watch for an outcome. If the court determines that there is no proper U.S. jurisdiction in the case, some fear that other parents will remove their children from the country to avoid an undesirable custody decision. The outcome will have wide-ranging effects for military parents on both sides of the issue, in Ohio and elsewhere in the nation.

Source: savannahnow.com, "Fort Stewart soldier's fight for daughter reaches Supreme Court," Marcus E. Howard, Dec. 5, 2012

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