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US Mother Wins at High Court in International Custody Dispute (1)

June 15, 2022, 2:39 PMUpdated: June 15, 2022, 9:16 PM

The boy at the heart of a custody dispute between his American mother and Italian father won’t have to be returned to Italy just yet, after the US Supreme Court sided with the woman over what’s required under an international treaty.

The ruling on Wednesday is the fifth on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction since 2010. The agreement is designed to prevent parents from gaming the system by absconding to a country with more favorable custody laws.

In 2020, the majority of the 185 children returned to the US for custody proceedings were done so under the Hague Convention.

In the unanimous ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor clarified that federal courts are not required to consider all possible ameliorative measures when refusing to return a child to their home country because it would put them at risk of physical or psychological abuse.

“While a district court has no obligation under the Convention to consider ameliorative measures that have not been raised by the parties, it ordinarily should address ameliorative measures raised by the parties or obviously suggested by the circumstances of the case,” Sotomayor said.

A federal trial court in New York said the boy could be returned to Italy where the family had previously lived even though it found his father, Isacco Jacky Saada, carried out most of the domestic violence that occurred during his marriage to Narkis Golan.

The case now returns to the trial court for a new determination on whether the boy should be returned to Italy or stay in the US while custody proceedings play out.

The case is Golan v. Saada, U.S., No. 20-1034.

(Updates with additional information from the opinion beginning in paragraph five.)

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com