In the last post, the facts and procedural posture of the international child custody case Abbott v. Abbott were discussed in detail. Today, the blog will examine how the Supreme Court of the United States arrived at its determination that a ne exeat right granted to a parent by a foreign court confers an enforceable “right of custody” under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention).
The court started its analysis with a determination that the terms of the Hague Convention governed the case. Next, the court concluded that any analysis under the Hague Convention must be accompanied by an analysis of the relevant laws of the nation in question, here Chile.
Referencing Chilean law, the court determined that the ne exeat rights granted to Timothy Abbott were most akin to a “joint right of custody” under the terms of the Hague Convention. In essence, the court found that Timothy Abbott’s ne exeat rights conferred shared authority regarding his son’s ultimate place of residence and that this authority was well within the ambit of “joint right of custody” as defined by the Hague Convention. Consequently, Timothy Abbott was able to enforce his ne exeat rights under the Hague Convention and seek the return of his son to Chile.
The court spoke of its concerns that to reach any other conclusion would render the Hague Convention “meaningless in many cases where it is needed most.” It also reasoned that the uniform return remedy provisions under the Hague Convention encourage couples to resolve child custody disputes in their country of residence and discourage child abduction for the sole purpose of forum shopping.
While the court held that Timothy Abbott’s ne exeat rights were enforceable under the Hague Convention, they did not provide him with the automatic return of his son. The reasoning for this decision was simple: The Hague Convention has express provisions that allow the abducting parent (here Jacqueline Abbott) to establish an exception to the normal rules. Accordingly, the court remanded the case for “further proceedings consistent with this opinion.” For assistance in custody matters, speak with the best custody lawyers in Riverside as soon as possible.