Custody of child who is citizen of USA

Dispute between Parents of the child and mother removed the child to India. Mother approaching family court at New Delhi, India and Father at Illinois, USA.

Mother/appellant and minor child are presently in New Delhi and the appellant has no intention to return to her matrimonial home in the U.S.A. The appellant has apprehensions and serious reservations on account of her past experience in respect of which we do not think it necessary to dilate in this proceedings. That is a matter to be considered by the Court of Competent Jurisdiction called upon to decide the issue of dissolution of marriage and/or grant of custody of the minor child, as the case may be. For the time being, we may observe that the parties must eschew from pursuing parallel proceedings in two different countries. For, the first marriage between the parties was performed in New Delhi as per Anand Karaj Ceremony and Hindu Vedic rites on 31st October, 2010 and the petition for dissolution of marriage has been filed in New Delhi. Whereas, the civil marriage ceremony on 19th March, 2011 at Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, USA, was performed to complete the formalities for facilitating the entry of the appellant into the US and to obtain US Permanent Resident status. It is appropriate that the proceedings pending in the Family Court at New Delhi are decided in the first place including on the question of jurisdiction of that Court. Depending on the outcome of the said proceedings, the parties will be free to pursue such other remedies as may be permissible in law before the Court of Competent Jurisdiction.

Resolution of multi jurisdictional dispute:

As aforesaid, it is true that both Father/respondent No.2 and also the minor child M are US citizens. The minor girl child has a US Passport and has travelled to India on a tenure Visa which has expired. That does not mean that she is in unlawful custody of her biological mother. Her custody with the appellant would nevertheless be lawful. The appellant has already instituted divorce proceedings in the Family Court at Patiala House, New Delhi. The respondent No.2 has also filed proceedings before the Court in the US for custody of the minor girl child, directing her return to her natural environment in the US.

A fortiori, dependant on the outcome of the proceedings, before the Family Court at New Delhi, the appellant may then be legally obliged to participate in the proceedings before the US Court and must take all measures to effectively defend herself in the said proceedings by engaging solicitors of her choice in the USA to espouse her cause before the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, USA. In that event, the respondent No.2 shall bear the cost of litigation and expenses to be incurred by the appellant to pursue the proceedings before the Courts in the native country. In addition, the respondent No.2 will bear the air fares or purchase the tickets for the travel of the appellant and the minor child M to the USA and including their return journey for India, as may be required. The respondent No.2 shall also make all suitable arrangements for the comfortable stay of the appellant and her companions at an independent place of her choice, at a reasonable cost. Further, the respondent No.2 shall not initiate any coercive/penal action against the appellant and if any such proceeding initiated by him in that regard is pending, the same shall be withdrawn and not pursued before the concerned Court any further. That will be the condition precedent to facilitate the appellant to appear before the Courts in the USA to effectively defend herself on all matters relating to the matrimonial dispute and including custody and guardianship of the minor child.

[Source: Kanika Goel vs. State of Delhi decided by SC on July 20, 2018]



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