U.S. top court rules for mother in child abduction fight

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 5, 2014 3:31pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday made it more difficult for a parent living overseas to seek the immediate return of a child abducted by another parent and taken to the United States.

The court ruled 9-0 against a father living in the United Kingdom who says his former partner abducted his daughter and took her to New York. The father, Manuel Jose Lozano, cannot seek the immediate return of the now 8-year-old child because he waited too long to make his claim, the court said.

The girl at the center of the dispute has been in the United States for four years. The mother, Diana Lucia Montoya Alvarez, left London with her in July 2009 after spending several months in a women's shelter. She later claimed that Lozano had been abusive. Both parents are from Colombia but met in London in 2004.

Lozano, who has not seen the child since November 2008, cited the Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction that requires children to be returned to the country of residence if the complaint is made within one year of being abducted. Only then can custody rights be adjudicated.

The legal problem for Lozano was that he did not make his official request until after Alvarez and the girl had already been absent for more than a year.

Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said that although the convention was intended to deter child abduction, "the convention does not pursue that goal at any cost."

The child will remain in the United States with Alvarez while custody proceedings continue. The case is Lozano v. Alvarez, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-820.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman)

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