U.S. Supreme Court Heard a Child Custody (Hague) Case This Term (Update)

by Annette Burns on October 6, 2012

[Previous Post, October 2012]  SCOTUS is hearing a child custody case this term (cert granted 8-13-2012), with oral argument scheduled for 12-4-2012.     Chafin v. Chafin involves a Hague Convention issue where a child with dual citizenship (Scotland and the United States) was returned to Scotland (from Alabama)  with her mother by way of an 11th Circuit decision.   The 11th Circuit had found that Scotland was the child’s “habitual residence”  (a fact that may be disputed).   The question before SCOTUS is whether the child’s return to Scotland renders Father’s appeal of the decision moot, and whether a United States Court should continue to be involved in the custody issue any further at all.

Oral argument was held on Wednesday December 5, and the transcripts are here.

Update, March 2013:  The Supreme Court ruling came out in February, 2013, ruling that Father’s appeal was not moot and that the Father’s appeal of the district court decision (which allowed the child to move to Scotland with her Mother) will continue.    moot “only when it is impossible for a court to grant any effectual relief whatever to the prevailing party.”  “As long as the parties have a concrete interest, however small, in the outcome of the litigation,” the Court stated, “the case is not moot.”    The Supreme Court result does not return the child to the United States from Scotland; it merely gives Father the chance to appeal the original order and ask that she be returned.

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