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Court upholds Iranian man's loss of child custody

An appeals court has ruled that an Iranian man should not regain the child custody of his son and that it was not unduly prejudicial to admit testimony at a hearing on the issue that he expressed fanatical anti-American Islamist opinions. He and his wife were married in Iran in 1995, and he was a student in the U.S. at the time.

Later, the couple had two children, a daughter, who is now an adult, and a son, still a minor. The entire family lived in the U.S. The wife complained that the husband increasingly was unable to provide for his family's needs and became involved in extremism, celebrating the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The father's influence reportedly caused the son to start doing things like chanting "death to America" in the family home. The wife filed a petition for divorce three years ago, which was granted. She was then granted sole custody of the son, in part based on testimony about the father's opinions. He appealed the ruling, arguing that the court had improperly relied on testimony that portrayed him as a terrorist and religious fanatic. The case was closely watched by many in Louisiana.

He also denied celebrating the September 11, 2001 attacks, saying that he merely opposed the war that followed. The appeals court ruled that the testimony did not contain any accusation that he was a terrorist, and also found that he had waived the right to appeal the inclusion of the testimony about his opinions by failing to object to their admission during the trial of the case.

While the son indicated that his preference was to live with his father rather than his mother, the court noted that this did not resolve the issue. Among other things, evidence showing that the father might take the child back to Iran showed that granting custody to the mother was in the child's best interest.

Child custody issues involving parents from other countries often add a layer of complexity to the legal questions that arise, making it all the more important to retain an experienced family law attorney to represent a parent seeking custody.

Source:  Courthouse News Service, "Appeal Won't Restore Child Custody to Iranian" Jeff Gorman, Jul. 23, 2013

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