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Boy in center of custody battle ordered to return to Illinois

An international custody battle involving a woman in Orland Park and a man in Ireland has lasted nearly as long as the child in question has been alive. The six-year-old boy, currently living in Ireland, is now ordered to be returned to his mother Illinois. A Chicago judge handed down the ruling after his initial decision was struck down by an appellate court. It has been about 18 months since Irish courts ordered that the boy live in Ireland with his father.

It's not entirely clear how enforceable the ruling will be, however. The mother stated that the U.S. State Department told her the ruling would be enforceable immediately. They also stated that they would work quickly to get the boy a U.S. passport. It's not clear how this will unfold, though, as the Irish courts have not changed their decision. The courts in Ireland have ruled that the parents should both live in Ireland and share custody of the boy. The father is attempting to get that ruling recognized in the U.S. through a circuit court in Cook County.

The child was born in the U.S. in March 2007. However, the parents relocated to Ireland just 11 days after the birth of the boy. When the relationship between the parents went downhill, the mother flew with the boy back to Illinois. The father filed a lawsuit in Chicago, stating that the mother's actions violated the Irish court's decision and were indicative of international child abduction. The judge agreed with the father in July 2012, and the boy was returned to Ireland by his grandmother. However, the appellate court overturned that decision, stating that the mother was acting as sole legal guardian and therefore, could decide where the boy would live.

International custody disputes are especially difficult because they can be very tricky legally and can take a serious toll on the family involved. Only time will tell if the courts in each country can come to a consensus on where the boy should reside.

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

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