WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- It’s rare that the Supreme Court takes on a family law case, but Wednesday the justices heard arguments from lawyers involved in a local custody battle.
The Supreme Court heard arguments from lawyers involved in a local custody, as an Ohio mother fights for custody of her daughter. (Source: Gray DC)
Michelle Monasky left Italy and took her infant daughter to Ohio, claiming her husband, Domineco Taglieri was abusive. Under the Hague Convention, she was ordered to bring the 8-week old back to Italy. According to the lower courts, Italy is the child’s home, or place of habitual residence.
There’s one problem, though. Habitual residence is not defined under the international treaty
“We need guidance from the Supreme Court so there’s consistency among the federal jurisdictions, especially for children who are young and didn’t have time to acclimate to their surroundings," said Andrew Zashin, attorney for Monasky, after the hearing.
In the courtroom, lawyers for Monasky argued, at the time, the child was too young to acclimate anywhere. Lawyers for Taglieri say, where a child lives should be the determining factor.
“That is consistent with the concept of habitual residence which historically has been strictly a fact-based approach,” said John Sayre, attorney for Taglieri.
But, why is all of this so important?
Under the Hague convention the country of habitual residence is the country that will make any custody decisions.
As for the assault claims, they were upheld in the lower courts, however, spousal abuse is not a factor in The Hague Convention.
Taglieri’s lawyers argued, Monasky could have left her husband, but stayed in Italy to avoid leaving her child.
Right now, it’s tough to tell which way the court will lean. The court has until the end of June to make a decision.
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