Mother and father had two children and resided in the United States until Father took a job in Singapore. The parents agreed to move to Singapore for only a three year period and then return to the United States. The parents had two children, both of whom are dual Danish and American citizens. The mother returned to the United States with the children on January 4, 2014 for a two-week visit. The mother and the children were scheduled to return to Singapore on January 20, 2014, but mother and children never returned to Singapore.
When the mother failed to return, father filed a petition in the US District Court District for Massachusetts, seeking the children’s immediate return to Singapore pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Mother objected to father’s petition, claiming that the children were not “habitual residents” of Singapore as they only agreed to remain in Singapore for a three-year period. In granting the father’s petition and ordering the children to be returned to Singapore immediately, the federal judge found it was not necessary for the parties to have an intention to stay in Singapore indefinitely. Instead, it is only required under the Hague Convention that “a sufficient degree of continuity be properly described as settled”. The court found that the fact that the father was employed in Singapore, the parties lived in Singapore as a family, rented a house, opened financial accounts, established medical care, and enrolled the children in school all sufficiently established that the parties were habitual residents of Singapore. The court stated further that the mere fact that the parties have returned occasionally to the United States does not override the fact that Singapore is the children’s habitual residence.
Navigating through disputes over child custody that involve multiple countries is complex and difficult. If you have any questions regarding a custody dispute involving multiple countries, please contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan.
Kevin P. Rauseo is a former director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. and has since been appointed as a Justice for the New Hampshire Circuit Court. Please feel free to contact another attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss your legal issues.