Delhi Court Directs Woman to Return to America for Child Custody Battle

In response to a plea filed by a U.S.-based man, the Delhi High Court said that the case should be left to the jurisdiction of American courts.


The Delhi High Court has asked an India-born woman from the United States to go back to America with her daughter to fight her child’s custody battle. The court said that the case should be left to the jurisdiction of American courts.

The court’s direction came in response to a plea been filed by the father of the child, who is nearly four years old. The United States-based father is seeking the custody of the child. The plea was filed in pursuance to an order passed by the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, in January this year.

The bench of justices comprising Vipin Sanghi and Deepa Sharma imposed conditions, saying that the man should bear the expenses of the child and his estranged wife during their initial stay in Chicago. He would also need to provide them reasonable accommodation and a car for their convenience.

In its order, the high court noted that the child should be in her natural environment, go back to school, and should receive the love and care of her father and grandparents who stay in Chicago. The court added that it is in the interest of the child to be among her peers and teachers.

“Just because the woman has found a safe haven in India – where her parents live, she could not have left the U.S. 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.

The court also said that since Chicago was where the couple worked, the woman cannot escape the reality and run to her comfort zone in India, especially at the cost of her child. “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 court added that the woman was aware of the systems prevalent in that country, and adjusting in that environment would not be a problem. It directed her to return to the United States with the minor. The court also said that the lack of love, care and attention from parents can have psychological and emotional impacts on the child, especially at a tender age.

The wife had earlier filed a suit seeking to dissolve the marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act on the grounds of cruelty and had said that the husband tried to establish physical relations forcibly. The man had approached the U.S. court, which granted him interim sole custody of the child and ordered that the child be returned to the father.

The couple, along with the child, had come for a vacation to India in December last year, and just when they were supposed to return to Chicago in January, the wife and the child went missing, the man informed the court. As his tickets were pre-booked, he had to go back to Chicago.

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