671 A.2d 988

In 1982, the parties got married in Pakistan and had a daughter. In 1990, the parties separated and the wife moved to the United States, taking their daughter with her. The husband filed a lawsuit against the wife for custody of their daughter. The wife was represented by counsel in the Pakistani custody hearing, although she refused to appear in person. The Pakistani judge awarded custody to the husband.

Meanwhile, the wife filed for custody of their daughter and a restraining order against the husband with the Circuit Court of Baltimore County. The Circuit Court determined that it had jurisdiction over the case and awarded temporary custody to the wife and issued a restraining order against the husband. The husband appealed that decision, challenging the Circuit Court’s jurisdiction over the case since a Pakistani custody order had already been issued to the husband. The Appellate Court remanded the case to the circuit court. Because the wife failed to meet her burden of proof, the circuit court held that it did not have jurisdiction over the case and granted comity to the Pakistani Court’s decision, thereby granting the husband custody over the daughter. The wife appealed this decision.

(1) “Did the circuit court err in determining that appellant failed to prove that Pakistani law was not in substantial conformity with Maryland law?”

(2) “Did the circuit court err in not assuming jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act?”

(1) The Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision, finding that the Pakistani Court did apply the best interest of the child standard. It noted that in making this determination, it was required to look at the evidence presented in a light most favorable to the husband because the circuit court had already made a factual determination based on the evidence presented. The Appellate Court would only reverse the circuit court’s decision if it found that the Circuit Court was clearly erroneous in its decision.

(2)  The Court held that the Circuit Court did not err in granting comity to the Pakistani custody decision. The Court reiterated that it only instructed the Circuit Court to assume jurisdiction if the wife could prove by a preponderance of the evidence, “(1) that the Pakistani court did not apply the best interest of the child test; [or] that (2) the Pakistani law applied was contrary to Maryland public policy.”  Thus, the Circuit Court was correct in not assuming jurisdiction.


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