U.S. Supreme Court Decides Hague Convention Case of Abbott v. Abbott

If a custodial parent violates an order not to remove a child from the country, the non-custodial parent may use the Hague Convention to have the child returned. Abbott v. Abbott, decided May 17, 2010 and online here

John Crouch at The Family Law News Blog says in this post, "This result is good policy, it’s good for international families, it’s good for the rule of law. It’s consistent with how people use and rely on the Hague Convention today, and how most courts in the U.S. and abroad interpret it. I’m not sure it reflects the treaty’s original intent or text, but the treaty leaves room for interpretation in that area.

What is especially significant is what it says about our current understanding of child custody. The majority reads “rights of custody” as implying “a bundle of rights”, in which some rights may be exclusive to one parent and others will often be shared by both, and both parents will ordinarily remain parents, and exercise some parental authority after divorce. The dissent takes an older view of custody as something that is (at least ordinarily) unitary, held by one parent after divorce. This view is declining but is still very strong in the more tradition-minded parts of our culture. These two views coexist, in different proportions, in other countries as well, as divorce and unwed parenthood become more common and society’s other institutions strain to adapt to them. They drive a lot of the drama in child abduction, alienation, and other contentious custody situations."