Joe Jonas’ Custody Dispute Highlights Complexities of International Custody Disputes
Posted on 09/29/2023 at 02:10 PM by Regan Conder
Celebrity couple, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner, recently filed for divorce after four years of marriage. Although their marriage was short in duration, their split has become acrimonious as they’ve publicly dueled over custody of their two young children.
Evidently, while not traveling for tours or acting gigs, the Jonas’ home base had been in Miami until April of 2023. In April, the parties moved to a temporary residence in England where their “forever home” was being completed and Turner was filming. When the marriage fell apart, Jonas returned to Florida and filed for custody of the children arguing Florida was the children’s home state. By acting quickly, Jonas was able to obtain a temporary custody order that prohibited the parties from relocating the children from Florida. In an attempt to change jurisdiction, Turner filed a federal action in New York claiming that the children’s habitual residence was in England and that Jonas was wrongfully retaining the children in the United State under the Hague Convention. If successful, Turner would be able to return the children to England and child custody jurisdiction would follow.
From the Jonas saga, it is apparent that complex legal issues quickly surface for parents whose children have lived in multiple states or countries. The biggest question, typically, is which state (or country) has child custody jurisdiction. To streamline this analysis, all of the states in America (except for Massachusetts) have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”). Under the UCCJEA, to make an initial child custody determination, the petitioning state would need to be the child’s home state.
The child’s home state is defined as where the child has consistently resided for the past six months. When there is no home state, the next possible avenue for a state to obtain jurisdiction is if the child has significant connections with it and there is substantial evidence in the state of the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships.
Alternatively, a state could obtain jurisdiction if there is no home state and any state with significant connections declines jurisdiction on the basis that another state is a more appropriate forum. The last catchall possibility to obtain jurisdiction is if no other state, under the UCCJEA, would have jurisdiction.
An additional component of international custody disputes is whether the Hague Convention is implicated. Under the Hague Abduction Convention, which many countries including the United States have adopted, a parent may petition for the return of the child to the child’s “habitual residence.” In order to pursue this avenue, however, the parent must have sufficient custody rights and must prove that the child was wrongfully retained in the country or that the child was abducted from its habitual residence.
International child custody cases implicate important jurisdictional questions and federal law. In the event you ignore these considerations, you may wind up with a custody order that is nonbinding and unenforceable. For more information on child custody jurisdiction or international child custody matters, please contact Regan E. Conder.
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