Paul Hastings Secures Supreme Court Victory in Chafin v. Chafin

February 22, 2013

Paul Hastings, a leading global law firm, announced today that together with co-counsel Michael Manely and students from the University of Pennsylvania Law School Supreme Court Clinic, a victory was secured on behalf of U.S. Army Sergeant Jeffrey Chafin in an international custody dispute regarding Sgt. Chafins daughter.

While stationed in Europe, Sgt. Chafin married a citizen of the United Kingdom and had a child. The couple divorced after returning to the United States and Ms. Chafin filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, seeking a determination that her daughters country of habitual residence was in the United Kingdom rather than the United States. The district court concluded that the daughters country of habitual residence was in the United Kingdom and Ms. Chafin returned to the U.K. with her daughter. Sgt. Chafin appealed the district courts determination to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal as moot because his daughter had already left the United States.

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Eleventh Circuit. The Supreme Court ruled that Sgt. Chafins appeal was not moot. While Sgt. Chafin may not succeed, the dispute regarding where the Chafins daughter would be raised is still very much alive. As such, the case cannot be dismissed as moot.

Appellate Litigation partner Stephen B. Kinnaird led the Paul Hastings team, which assisted co-counsel Michael Manely in preparing briefing materials together with law students from the University of Pennsylvania. Associates Sean Smith, Michelle Yetter, and Lisa Nowlin also worked on the matter. 

Paul Hastings LLP is a leading global law firm with offices in Asia, Europe, and the United States. We provide innovative legal solutions to financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies. Please visit www.paulhastings.com for more information.

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