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International custody battle falls into hands of Georgia judge

Custody battles are rarely straightforward and easily handled. Besides the emotion involved in such disputes, there is the often difficult determination of what is really in the best interests of the child.

On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned a ruling by a lower Georgia court which dismissed an Italian man’s divorce case and child custody claim. The case is somewhat out of the ordinary, as it involves an international custody battle concerning their five-year-old son who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Italy.

The Italian man and woman who were the instigators of the custody battle had reportedly married in Italy in 2002. Their son was born same year. They later moved to the United States and lived In Athens, GA from 2004 to 2007, where the wife taught Italian at the University of Georgia and the husband took a position as a graduate teaching assistant with the University of Georgia’s Department of Romance Languages.

In 2007 the husband was arrested for domestic violence, and the wife took her son and went back to Italy, where she filed for divorce several months later.

The husband shortly thereafter filed a complaint with the Italian Ministry of Justice under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, which is recognized by both the United States and Italy.

He also filed for divorce in Clarke County in late 2007 and was awarded temporary custody of their son. Several months later, an Italian court awarded custody to the wife, creating an international custody battle.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this story and how the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in Monday’s decision.

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