OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A U.S. military dad who grew up in Overland Park may be closer to getting his daughter back in an international custody battle that has been raging for almost two years.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of 41-year-old U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Jeff Chafin, whose estranged wife, Lynn Chafin, left the U.S. for her native Scotland with the couple’s now 5-year-old daughter after being deported for a series of alcohol-related crimes.
A U.S. Appeals Court had awarded custody of the couple’s child, Eris Chafin, to Lynn Chafin, saying that the girl had already spent most of her early years in Scotland.
Jeff Chafin, who is now stationed in Fort Lee, Virginia, says that the last straw that finally prompted their divorce came just two weeks before his wife was deported.
“The final straw when I woke up with her standing over me with a knife, saying I’m not going to walk out of the room alive,” said Chafin.
Lynn Chafin was arrested in Alabama in December of 2010 for allegedly hitting a cab driver in the head, in an incident that was captured on police video. Two weeks later she was arrested for domestic violence in connection to the knife incident with her husband. She was deported to Scotland two weeks after that.
“My wife has definitely proven that she definitely has a drinking issue,” said Chafin.
The U.S. Appeals Court decision has led to a 10-month-long legal battle that is now heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. When Chafin heard that the high court would be hearing his case – the Supreme Court agrees to hear less than one percent of all the cases submitted to it – he was thrilled.
“I was crying like a baby, jumping up and down for joy,” said Chafin.
Jeff Chafin’s mother, Sharon Chafin Feden, has organized numerous fundraisers to help her son’s mounting legal bills, which are now in the six-figure range.
“Absolutely over the moon because we’ve been told and told and told it just doesn’t happen,” said Feden. “We’ve got a whole bunch more fundraisers coming up because this is a whole new beginning for us.”
Jeff Chafin says that he visited his daughter in Scotland three weeks ago. He says that his daughter asked him every day if she could come back to the U.S. with him.
“She got in my suitcase and said, ‘Daddy, if I zip this suitcase up, I can go home with you’,” said Chafin. He says that his daughter asked him not to leave.
“I just told her to hang on,” said Chafin. “Daddy’s trying, daddy’s fighting.”
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Chafin’s case on December 5th.
There will be a number of fundraising events to raise money to help Jeff Chafin bring his daughter, Eris Chafin, home. Click here for more information.