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US Army Sergeant Challenges International Custody Decision

Posted on in Child Custody and Support

For years, the Chafin family lived very far apart.  Jeffrey Chafin, 41, is a sergeant 1st class for the US Army and as a result is constantly moving around the globe depending on his deployment.  His wife, Lynne Chafin is a Scottish national who had lived with the couple’s daughter from 2007 to 2010 in her homeland.  At that time, Lynne and her daughter came to stay with Jeffrey in Madison, AL to repair what was left of their marriage.  They ended up divorcing anyway.

Lynne eventually overstayed her visa and returned to Scotland.  At that same time, a state judge in Alabama awarded custody of the child to Sergeant Chafin. The custody battle has been raging for two years since that time.  Upon review by a US district judge, the case was overturned.  Judge Igne Prytz Johnson cited the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child abduction and explained that Scotland was the girl’s “habitual residence.”  A habitual residence is legal terminology which means someone’s home for a long duration in the past.

When Jeffrey appealed the district court’s decision, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that it was too late to give Jeffrey any justice.  The child was already in Scotland and out of the jurisdiction of the court.  Now, Jeffrey is looking to the Supreme Court to overturn the Hague Convention which tries to maintain stability for children and protect them from being wrongfully abducted.

The Hague Convention is often used to reconcile custody battles for military service personnel who had children with non-US citizens.  Being separated from one’s children is an awful feeling to have.  If your ex-spouse is threatening to relocate with your child, you need to stand up for your rights as a parent before it’s too late.  Please contact a skilled family law attorney in Geneva who will be dedicated to finding a solution to the most difficult problems.

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