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International custody battle returns boy to Illinois ... for now

In the latest chapter in a complicated international custody case, the mother of a 6-year-old boy could get the best Christmas present possible: her son. A federal court ruled recently that the boy, who has been living with his father in Ireland, must return to Illinois to live with his mother.

We wrote about the case in July 2012, when the same court ordered the woman to return the boy to his father. The woman did just that; she also filed an appeal. This past summer, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling and returned the matter to the trial court for disposition. In the written opinion, the appellate panel recognized that the mother was the boy's sole legal guardian, and, as such, she had "the exclusive right to decide where he would live."

This decision, however, is not the end of the matter. There are other legal actions in the works here and in Ireland, and keeping track of each case's progress may well be harder than watching simultaneous Ping-Pong matches.

The family moved to Ireland a few days after the boy's birth. They lived there for a very brief time before the parents split and the mother came back to Illinois with their son. The court in Ireland had determined that the boy belonged there, with his father. When the mother brought their son back to the U.S., the father accused her of violating international child abduction laws -- filing the lawsuit here in federal court.

The father has taken the matter to yet another court, the Cook County Circuit Court, in another attempt to regain custody. He is asking the county court to affirm the Irish ruling, to decide, in effect, that the U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction in the matter. The county court's decision could throw a wrench in the federal court's decision.

So the custody matter is not settled. For the time being, though, the boy's mother is looking forward to his return to Illinois in time for the holidays.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Judge: Return boy in Ireland to his mother in Illinois," Jason Meisner, Dec. 12, 2013

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