Scots mum’s battle for custody goes to US court
A SCOTTISH mother’s custody battle with her estranged American husband is to be heard in the US Supreme Court, in what could be a landmark ruling.
Lynne Chafin, 35, won custody of her daughter in October last year in a US court and the pair returned to Glasgow.
But her ex-husband Jeffrey Chafin, a former US serviceman, has challenged the decision, saying it amounted to “abduction”.
Now the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear his appeal against the lower court ruling.
Court papers reveal Lynne had lived with her daughter in Scotland since 2007, apart from her husband because of his job.
In February 2010, she travelled to visit him in Madison, Alabama, in a failed effort to save their marriage.
Lynne later returned to Scotland after overstaying her visa and sought the return of her daughter after an Alabama state judge awarded custody to Mr Chafin, a US army sergeant.
She appealed and the US district court ruled in October that the little girl be returned to Scotland under an international treaty.
Judge Inge Prytz in Huntsville, Alabama, called Scotland the girl’s “habitual residence” under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Mr Chafin’s initial appeal was dismissed in February by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal, which said the issue was moot because the girl was already in Scotland.
If the US Supreme Court overturns that decision, Mr Chafin will be able to appeal the original ruling.
Scottish lawyer Stephen Cullen, who practises in Washington DC and is representing Ms Chafin, commented: “You’ve got this child who’s like a ping-pong ball, and no-one knows who’s supposed to decide the custody question.”
A lawyer for Jeffrey Chafin claimed the outcome could affect service personnel stationed around the globe.
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