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Judge orders child returned to Sweden in custody case

Child custody disputes are one of the top three most contested issues during a divorce. In the United States the laws on custody have changed over the decades as the home lives of families have changed. Custody laws vary by state, but maintain a base standard of putting the child's best interest first. However, which laws govern the child and the parent's rights in international cases?

A federal judge has ordered the return of a 3-year-old girl to Sweden after he found the mother was violating an international treaty by keeping the child. The incident started when the mother allegedly left Sweden with her daughter on a 90 day visit to see her mother in 2012. The woman never returned to Sweden, prompting the child's father to come to the U.S. to fight for the child's return. The father has been in the U.S. for 123 days attempting to have his child returned to him. After the mother left with the child the father was able to obtain sole custody of the child in Sweden. The mother plans on continuing to fight for custody of her child.

The judge in the case based his ruling off of the provisions of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. Both the U.S. and Sweden are signatories to the treaty. Under the treaty, child custody is established in the country from which is originated. In Sweden, prior to the U.S. move, the couple had joint custody of the girl. Because of this the judge was able to order the child be returned to Sweden.

When a parent attempts to separate a child from another loving and supportive parent the person who ends up being hurt the most is usually the child. Parents, like the courts, should always keep the best interest of the child in mind when making decisions that affect the child.

Source: Daily Herald, "International custody case child returns to Sweden," July 17, 2013

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