Determining a workable custody arrangement can be difficult for parents to do and courts are often required to make the decisions for them. Such an arrangement can be complicated even further when the parents live a significant distance from each other. Finding a suitable child custody arrangement that works for both parents and the children involved can be extremely difficult since courts must determine which primary location is in the best interests of the child.
An Army sergeant stationed in Georgia is involved in a custody dispute involving his daughter, who currently lives with her mother in Scotland. The child was born in Germany, when the father was stationed there. When he was deployed to Afghanistan, the mother took the girl to Scotland and claims it is the girl's habitual residence. While deployed, and upon returning, the father and mother began to have disputes and eventually separated, while they were all living in the United States. The woman was eventually sent back to Scotland without her daughter, but was granted custody by a U.S. federal judge based on an international law granting parents a right of access. The father has appealed and is questioning what a court is allowed to do when the habitual residence determination is invoked.
As in any child custody determination, the ultimate factor for the court to consider is what is in the best interests of the children involved. Typically one of the parents will be granted physical custody as the custodial parent while the non-custodial parent maintains visitation rights and both parents share legal custody. If one of the parents chooses to relocate a significant distance with the children, there are laws in each state that must be followed.
Child custody arrangements are difficult enough on their own, but when one of the parents seeks to move with the children, it can complicate the situation even further. Both custodial and non-custodial parents should be aware of their rights and responsibilities if these circumstances arise.
Source: CNN, "Supreme Court to weigh girl's custody case," Bill Mears, Dec. 5, 2012