Mother brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of Alabama to obtain order under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), directing child’s return to Scotland as her purported country of habitual residence. Following bench trial, the District Court entered judgment in favor of mother and required father to pay her costs and attorney fees, and father appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit dismissed appeal as moot following mother’s and child’s return to Scotland. Certiorari was granted. Held: Father’s appeal from order entered by the district court under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), directing his daughter’s return to Scotland as her country of habitual residence, was not rendered “moot” by fact that mother had returned with daughter to Scotland, regardless of whether district court had either statutory or inherent authority to order child’s re‑return to the United States once she and mother had departed, or whether, if such a re‑return order were issued, it could be enforced in event that mother decided not to obey it; father’s prospects for obtaining re‑return order went to merits and were not pertinent to mootness inquiry, nor could it be said that parties lacked any concrete interest in whether re‑return order was entered, regardless of any enforcement problems.
Laura Morgan is a Family Law Consultant. Laura is available for consultation, brief writing and research on family law issues throughout the country. She can be reached through her website. www.famlawconsult.com