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International custody battle falls into hands of Georgia judge

In our previous post, we began to look at the story of an Italian man and woman who became involved in an international custody battle when an Italian court awarded custody to the mother and a Georgia court awarded custody to the father. Here we continue that story.

After the conflicting decisions had been made, the wife was subsequently granted a request to suspend her husband's motion for custody in Georgia, allowing Georgia and Italian judges the opportunity to work out the situation under the Uniform child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act prevents parents from "forum shopping" by requiring that a child's home state be the forum which determines custody matters. Forum shopping is a practice in which parents attempt to get their case heard in a court more likely to judge in their favor. The home state is where child lived for six months before custody claims were filed.

In April of 2009, the Italian court ruled that Georgia law only applied to the couple's divorce, but not as to child custody. After that, last February, the Georgia court dismissed the husband's divorce case and child custody claim. He appealed that ruling up to the Georgia Supreme Court.

In Monday's ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court noted that both the Italian court and the Georgia court made mistaken rulings. According to the ruling, the lower court was mistaken in dismissing the complaint, and the Italian court failed to engage in any analysis of the home state of the child or equivalent factors.

The Georgia Supreme Court determined that, under the Uniform Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, only a Georgia court can decide custody matters in the case. Now the custody question is in the hands of a Georgia court.

Source: Online Athens, "Custody dispute to be decided in Georgia," Joe Johnson, 8 Feb 2011.

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