The following entry was prepared by Eliana Baer, an associate in our Princeton office.
We previously blogged on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Abbott v. Abbott, which addressed the meaning of the “right of custody” under the Hague convention. There, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to the extent that it ruled that it a noncustodial father who had regular visitation rights with his child, shared in the right to determine the child’s residence, which constituted a right of custody under the Hague Convention sufficient to invoke enforcement under the Hague. As to the issue of the child’s removal over international borders, however, the Supreme Court the Court did not automatically order the child’s return to Chile. Rather, the Court remanded the for a determination by the trial court. Parents from New Jersey and other states are put in similar situations on a daily basis trying to have their children returned to them from foreign nations.
One such recent case is Fuentes v. Fuentes which arose under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA"), which is a statute that determines jurisdiction in custody disputes. In Fuentes, the Father, a United States citizen, appealed from a Family Part order that registered an order of the Venezuelan Court, obtained by the Mother, a Venezuelan citizen, and ordered her to return the parties’ son, born in the United States, to Venezuela. The Mother, who was born in Columbia, and Father, a citizen of Venezuela, were married in New Jersey in June 2003. Unbeknownst to the Mother, however, at the time of the parties’ marriage, the father was still married to another woman. The parties’ son was born in September 2003. Approximately three months later, they moved to Venezuela with their child so that the Father could operate a business he owned there. Both parties maintained that the move was temporary.