Go Back, Fight Your Child Custody Battle In Chicago: Delhi Court Tells India-Born Woman

An Indian-born US woman has been asked to return to the US along with her toddler daughter by the Delhi High Court which left it to the jurisdiction of American court to decide the child’s custody issue pending there.

The court was hearing a plea filed by the father of the three-year-and-eight-month-old girl, seeking that the child be removed from her mother’s custody and allowed to be taken to the US.

This was in pursuance to a January this year order passed by the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, the US.

The high court in its order noted that it is in the “best interest” of the child to be in her natural environment, receive love and care of her father and grandparents, who live in Chicago, resume her school and be with teachers and peers.

A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Deepa Sharma also imposed several conditions, including that the man should fund the expenses of his estranged wife and child on their initial stay in Chicago, provide reasonable accommodation and arrange a vehicle for them.

It also said that the man should meet the woman’s legal expenses which she may incur till the time she finds a suitable job for herself there.

“Just because the woman has found a safe haven in India – where her parents live, she could not have left the US permanently with their child, without caring for the best interest of the child and tearing her away from her father and paternal grandparents, with whom she had spent her initial life,” the bench said.

It added that Chicago, the US was the ‘Karam Bhumi’ of the couple and the woman cannot run away from there and escape to India, which is her comfort zone, at the cost of the child’s best interest.

“The woman should return to Chicago to fight her battles on that turf, so that the child can be with both her parents. The woman is not alone, and carries with her the responsibility of bringing up the child jointly with her father. It would have been a different matter if the couple had not had a child,” it said.

The bench said the woman was able-bodied, educated, accustomed to living in Chicago and was earlier employed before she came to India in December 2016 and she should not have any difficulty in finding her feet in the US.

“She knows the systems prevalent in that country, and adjustment for her in that environment would certainly not be an issue. Accordingly, we direct her to return to the US with the minor child,” it said.

The man said the child was born in the US and they had come to India on a short trip in December last year. They were scheduled to return to Chicago in January and at the last moment, his wife and daughter went missing and he left for the US as his flight was pre-booked.

The woman had filed a suit here seeking dissolution of marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act on the ground of cruelty and that he tried to forcibly establish physical relations.

On the other hand, the man had approached the US court which ordered that the child be immediately returned to her father, who was granted interim sole custody of the child. He then approached the high court, demanding that this order be complied with.

The court said the child, who does not receive the love, care and attention of both the parents, is bound to suffer from psychological and emotional trauma, particularly if the child is small and of tender age.

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