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PENNSYLVANIA Appeals court: & Eacute;migr & eacute; should get child support

Friday, January 30, 2004

Jordan, however, does not recognize U.S. law.
SHARON, Pa. (AP) -- A Jordanian & eacute;migr & eacute; is entitled to child-support payments even though his ex-wife has returned to Jordan with their daughter, a state appeals court has ruled.
The state Superior Court ruled that Nahed Seder of Hermitage should receive about $379 a month from his estranged wife, Alia Makahleh, although she moved back to Jordan with the couple's daughter three years ago.
The effect of the ruling, the latest in three years of legal wrangling between parents halfway around the world from each other, is unknown since Jordan does not recognize U.S. law.
Seder, known as "Ned," who was granted custody of his now 4-year-old daughter in 2001, said the ruling was a small victory to get her back.
Father's comments
"I'm taking steps. I'm going up like 100 steps and I'm on like 40. Ninety-nine is to get her on the plane," Seder told The Herald in Sharon, Pa., for a story in Tuesday's editions.
"It's not the sun shining, but with as cold as it's been, this gives me a warm feeling inside," said Seder, who became a U.S. citizen in 1995 and is a soccer coach.
Joe Joseph, who represented Makahleh and hasn't talked to her since she left the country, declined to comment on the ruling.
According to court documents, Makahleh was granted temporary custody during their divorce in 2000 and returned to Jordan. A year later, Seder, who was given visitation rights, successfully argued that his estranged wife had violated the order, and he was given custody of the girl.
Seder petitioned for child support from Makahleh but was denied after a hearing officer ruled that he didn't have physical custody. Seder successfully appealed to the state Superior Court, which ruled in 2002 that he should receive child support.
Cited conflict
Joseph also appealed, citing an apparent conflict between a 1997 state Supreme Court ruling and state law. The high court said people could not seek child support without a court order granting legal or physical custody. State law allows those caring for children to seek child support even without such a custody order.
The Superior Court acknowledged the conflict but said the state law broadened rather than limited those who could seek child support.
"We refuse to set a precedent by which parents who wish to avoid child-support obligations wrongfully can keep a child from the legal custodian," Justice Patrick Tamilia wrote for the court.
But the court also recognized that Seder is unlikely to receive the child support because of international law.
"The problem of kidnapping children by parents who retain dual citizenship in countries in the Middle East defeats any effort through reciprocal law, international recognition of custody orders or diplomacy to provide a rational resolution of these cases which is in the child's best interest," the court said.