When a child is removed from or retained in a country that is not a child's habitual residence a parent can seek to have the child returned to their habitual residence country under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Those who handle child custody cases are familiar with this concept. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit was faced with a case of first impression when the issue arose as to whether a child can have concurrent habitual residences. The case of Didon v. Castillo, 2016 US App. Lexis 17467 (3d. Cir. 2016), had very unique facts that gave rise to this issue. In the Didon case, Alicia Castillo (referred to as Dominguez in the opinion and this article) had two children: A.D. and J.D. J.D. was from a prior relationship and A.D. was the biological child of Maurice Didon and Dominguez. Didon never formally adopted J.D. but the parties petitioned to change J.D.'s birth certificate to list Didon as her father. The petition was granted and Didon was listed as J.D.'s father on her birth certificate. The parties lived in Saint Martin. Saint Martin consists of two legally distinct countries: the French Saint Martin and the Dutch ?Sint Maarten.
Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer - October 18, 2016.
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