The following blog has been written by Eliana Baer, an associate of the firm resident in our Princeton office.
In our increasingly mobile society, it is no surprise that the issue of international child abduction has emerged as one of the new “hot topics” in family law. On May 17, 2010, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Abbott v. Abbott, involving different aspects of international abduction and custody. Sandra Fava, an associate in our Roseland office previously blogged about this case.
In Abbott, Timothy Abbott, a British citizen, and Jacquelyn Abbott, an American citizen, obtained a divorce in the Chilean courts. Mrs. Abbott was awarded custody of their son, and Mr. Abbott was awarded visitation rights. At Mrs. Abbott’s request, the Chilean court entered an order prohibiting the child’s removal from Chile by either party without prior mutual consent. When about one year later, Mrs. Abbott removed the child to Texas without Mr. Abbott’s consent, Mr. Abbott filed suit in the Federal District Court in Texas, seeking an order requiring his son’s return to Chile under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Chile and the United States are signatories to the Hangue Convention). The district court held that the child’s removal did not constitute a breach of the father’s "rights of custody" as defined by the Hague convention. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed and an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the United States.