United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Family Law — child abduction
Because unmarried fathers in Ireland have no paternal rights, it was error for the district court to hold that it was unlawful for the mother to remove the child to the United States.
“The district court treated the parents’ last shared intent as a kind of fixed doctrinal test for determining a child’s habitual residence. It is not. The determination of habitual residence under the Hague Convention is a practical, flexible, factual inquiry that accounts for all available relevant evidence and considers the individual circumstances of each case. Here, the parents’ shared intent when JMR was born sheds little light on the question of his habitual residence in 2011. When Mary moved with the baby to Illinois in November 2007, she had the exclusive right to decide where he would live; because she was JMR’s sole legal custodian, his removal from Ireland was not wrongful under the Convention. By March 2011, the time of the alleged wrongful “retention,” JMR’s life was too firmly rooted in Illinois to consider Ireland his home. Because JMR was habitually resident in the United States, the district court was wrong to order him ‘returned’ to Ireland.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Norgle, J., Sykes, J.