Georgia State University College of Law graduate Michael Manely ('89) with the Manely Firm PC will argue before the U.S. Supreme Court in Chafin v. Chafin on Dec. 5. Manely represents U.S. Army Sgt. Jeff Chafin in his bid regain custody of his daughter, Eris, 5.
On Oct. 13, 2011, Eris, 4, was taken from her father, Jeff Chafin, after U.S. District Court Judge Inge Johnson ruled in favor of her Scottish mother, Lynn Hales Chafin. At trial, Lynn Hales Chafin argued, that even though she had requested and was moved to the United States by the Army, had applied for U.S. citizenship and had written friends and family that she and her daughter had relocated to the United States, she never really meant for the United States to be her and her daughter's habitual residence.
Within hours of Judge Inge Johnson's ruling, Ms. Chafin moved the child to Scotland. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit refused to review the district court's order, finding the federal courts lacked any power over children once they were removed from U.S. soil. In a highly unusual move, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Sgt. Chafin's petition for writ of certiorari requesting the Court find that a right of appeal exists even with Eris now situated in Scotland.
Trial testimony demonstrated Eris was regularly in her father's primary care because of Ms. Chafin's multiple arrests for public intoxication and domestic violence. The child was exclusively in her father's care after her mother was deported to Scotland in February 2011.
Manely argues other U.S. Circuit Courts have ruled that the federal courts retain authority over children removed from the United States. To hold otherwise encourages child abduction which the Hague Convention on Child Abduction is intended to prevent.
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