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Justices Will Take International Child Custody Case

June 10, 2019, 1:54 PM

“A.M.T.” was 8 weeks old when she was brought to the United States from Italy by her mother, who claims she was fleeing an abusive relationship.

Four years later, the Supreme Court has agreed to consider a case next term that could determine whether the girl can return to the U.S. with her mother, or whether she must remain in Italy, where she’s lived with her father since a court ordered her returned there.

It’s the fourth high court case in the past decade dealing with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is intended to return children abducted by a parent and taken across international borders. More than 230 children were returned to the U.S. under the Hague Convention in 2018 alone, according to the State Department.

The appeal here centers around the central question in Hague cases of “habitual residence,” which determines where a child will remain while divorce and custody proceedings play out.

The Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit deferred to the trial court’s determination that the girl’s habitual residence was Italy. It also said a subjective agreement between the two parents to raise their child in a particular country wasn’t necessary to find that the country was the child’s habitual residence.

That decision divided the Sixth Circuit 10-8, and created splits with other circuit courts, according to the mother’s Supreme Court petition.

There’s a three-way split on the proper level of deference that an appellate court should give to a trial court’s finding regarding habitual residence, and a separate one over the requirement of a subjective agreement, she said.

The case is Monasky v. Taglieri, U.S., No. 18-935, review granted 6/10/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com