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Fort Lee soldier’s custody case gets SCOTUS hearing

A soldier from Fort Lee will get a U.S. Supreme Court hearing in his custody dispute with his ex-wife, who moved with their five-year-old daughter to her native Scotland

In August, the high court granted a writ and scheduled oral argument for Dec. 5, 2012, in the case of Chafin v. Chafin, No. 11-1347.

Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Chafin is appealing an 11th Circuit decision that said under the Hague Convention, an international treaty governing custody disputes, the federal court had no power or jurisdiction to take further action in the custody contest.

Federal courts of appeals are split on whether the return of a child to the country of “habitual residence” moots an appeal by a parent seeking custody, according to Chafin’s petition for appeal. The 11th Circuit decision stands in contrast to a 2001 decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Fawcett v. McRoberts, that granted a Scottish mother’s petition for return of her child from the U.S. because the father in that case had wrongfully removed the boy from Scotland under the Hague Convention.

By Deborah Elkins

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