Cronin v. Circuit Court for Prague 5, Czech Republic
Connecticut Father Seeks To Prevent Son's Return To Prague
Civil Procedure | Jurisdiction and Service of Process | Family Law | Custody and Child Support
- U.S. District Court
- Aug 29 2013 (Date Decided)
- Underhill, J.
Federal courts do not adjudicate cases that involve the custody of minors and rights of visitation. The plaintiff's 17-year-old child, Kevin, was born in Connecticut, then moved with his mother to Prague. In July 2013, a Czech court granted visitation for one month to the plaintiff father. The plaintiff alleged that his child does not want to return to Prague and is worried that he will be subjected to psychological abuse. The pro se plaintiff filed a request for the Connecticut District Court to take jurisdiction of the custody dispute. A domestic exception to jurisdiction exists. Federal courts may not hear divorce, alimony or child custody cases, pursuant to Ankenbrandt v. Richards, a 1992 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. "[F]ederal courts do not adjudicate cases involving the custody of minors and, a fortiori, rights of visitation," pursuant to Hernstadt v. Hernstadt, a 1967 decision of the 2nd Circuit. "Even if I somehow had the power to enjoin a foreign tribunal," wrote the District Court, "I clearly lack subject-matter jurisdiction over [the plaintiff's] custody case." The court dismissed the plaintiff's complaint and ordered the court clerk to seal documents that disclose personal information.