Sophie Turner v. Joe Jonas: A High-Profile Abduction Convention Case

Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner standing in front of a Grammy award.

The BBC has reported that the actress, Sophie Turner, has filed a petition under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of her children to the UK. Her husband, the singer Joe Jonas, recently filed a divorce petition in Florida, and Turner filed the new petition in New York.

The basic scheme of the Abduction Convention is that only the courts in the state of a child’s habitual residence should adjudicate child custody. So the courts in Convention states should promptly return children to the state of their habitual residence so that that state’s courts can adjudicate custody. There are exceptions, of course, to the rule requiring return. The Supreme Court decided a case involving exceptions just last year.

I don’t know the details of the case, of course, but it seems likely to me that there will be real disputes about where the couple’s children habitually resided. According to the BBC article, the divorce petition asserts that the children had lived in Florida for six months before the divorce petition was filed. But the Abduction Convention petition asserts that their habitual residence was in the UK (though apparently only since April 2023). I have to say that as a stranger to the case, the Abduction Convention petition doesn’t seem overwhelmingly persuasive, but we will see—and probably pretty soon, given that Convention cases are expedited.

Photo credit: Cosmopolitan UK (CC BY).

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