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Abbott v. Abbott

United States Supreme Court
130 S. Ct. 1983, 560 U.S. 1 (2010)


Timothy Abbott (plaintiff) and Jacquelyn Vaye Abbott (defendant) had a child, A.J., in 1995 and moved to Chile in 2002. The couple separated in 2003. Chilean law granted Jacquelyn daily care and control of A.J., but granted Timothy regular visitation rights and a ne exeat right—a joint parental right that Timothy could use to prevent Jacquelyn from removing A.J. from Chile. While the custody case in Chile was still pending, Jacquelyn had taken A.J. to Texas without consent from Timothy or the Chilean court. Jacquelyn filed for divorce in Texas and sought full control over A.J.'s place of residence. In 2006, Timothy filed suit in the United District Court for the Western District of Texas, seeking a court order mandating that A.J. be returned to Chile, pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Abduction Convention). Jacquelyn argued that a right of custody must be capable of being exercised. Therefore, as a ne exeat right cannot be exercised unless and until the other parent attempts to remove the child from the country, a ne exeat right is not a right of custody. The district court denied Timothy's request, holding that Timothy's ne exeat right was not a right of custody. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that the return of the child is not a remedy for a violation of a ne exeat right. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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