WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is resolving an international child custody dispute in favor of the girl’s Italian father over her American mother.
The mother, Michelle Monasky, fled with her daughter from Italy to Ohio when the girl was two months old. Monasky said her husband had become abusive, so she left with her daughter and moved in with her parents in the United States. The Supreme Court agreed unanimously Tuesday that lower courts were correct in ordering that the now 5-year-old girl be returned to Italy.
The child’s father, Domenico Taglieri, had petitioned courts in the United States for the girl’s return and won. The child, who is referred to as A.M.T. in court documents, was actually returned to Italy when she was nearly 2 years old and put in her father’s care. An appeal of the case continued in the United States, however, and custody proceedings are still ongoing in Italy.
An international treaty says that a child wrongfully removed from her country of “habitual residence” should usually be returned to that country. Monasky had argued to the Supreme Court that Italy was not the infant’s habitual residence because she and Taglieri had not agreed to raise the girl there.
But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in an opinion that no agreement was necessary for Italy to be the girl’s habitual residence. And the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that found that the girl was born into “a marital home in Italy” and her parents had “no definitive plan to return to the United States.” The couple initially lived together in Milan before Taglieri moved to Lugo for a job.
An attorney for Taglieri, Andrew Pincus, said Tuesday that they were gratified by the ruling. An attorney for Monasky did not immediately return an email and phone message requesting comment.
The Supreme Court said in resolving the dispute that determining a child’s “habitual residence” will depend on the specific circumstances of each case.
“Common sense suggests that some cases will be straightforward: Where a child has lived in one place with her family indefinitely, that place is likely to be her habitual residence,” Ginsburg wrote. “ But suppose, for instance, that an infant lived in a country only because a caregiving parent had been coerced into remaining there. Those circumstances should figure in the calculus.”
The case is Monasky v. Taglieri, 18-935