When child custody situations span cities or states, it can be a difficult agreement to manage between divorced Cincinnati parents. Yet, when these agreements begin to span countries, the situation becomes even harder to manage for parents who both wish to see their children regularly. The Supreme Court is set to hear a challenge to such a child custody agreement where a man's 5-year-old daughter was placed with her mother in Scotland under the terms of an international treaty.

The man's wife has lived in Scotland since 2007, apart from her husband who is a member of the military. The couple divorced several years later, and the couple's daughter was placed in her father's custody by a judge in the state in which he resided. Upon returning to Scotland, the mother sought the return of her daughter to her own custody.

Under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the daughter was returned to her mother's care in Scotland as it was determined to be her "habitual residence." Often in child custody cases, especially those spanning two separate countries and cultural areas, the child is kept with the parent where their cultural experiences will be best upheld. Making a permanent move to such a drastically different place in the midst of a parent's divorce is a jarring event for a young child, and can be found to not be in their best interests.

The father originally made an appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to change the agreement, but it was dismissed as his daughter had already been returned to Scotland. It remains to be seen what will come of his latest appeal to the Supreme Court. However, regardless of the situation, child custody agreements operate most effectively for the child when they are decided in the child's best interest.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Supreme Court to hear international child custody dispute," Jonathan Stempel and Terry Baynes, Aug. 13, 2012