Sophie Turner and Joe Jonass custody battle is complicated due to their globe-trotting lifestyle
On Thursday, the actress from Game of Thrones filed a petition seeking the return of their children to England. She has accused the singer from the Jonas Brothers of wrongfully retaining their two daughters.
The ongoing custody dispute between Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas has taken a tumultuous turn, further complicated by their jet-setting lifestyles, according to legal experts.
On Thursday, the actress from Game of Thrones filed a petition requesting the return of their daughters to England. In the filing, which was obtained by Yahoo Entertainment, Turner, 27, alleged that her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Jonas, 34, has wrongfully withheld their daughters. Turner claims that Jonas has refused to surrender the American-born children’s passports and allow her to take them back to England, where she asserts they have been residing full-time since April.
Turner is currently in possession of their children in New York City. She initiated her federal case there, invoking the child abduction provisions of the Hague Convention—an international treaty ratified by over 100 nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom. The treaty’s primary objective is to facilitate the return of a child who has been taken by one parent from their country of “habitual residence.”
Jonas recently filed for divorce in Miami, Florida, earlier this month. They jointly owned a home in Miami until just last month. In his divorce filing, Jonas expressed his desire to share custody, even if Turner’s primary residence remains in England. He opted to initiate the divorce proceedings in Miami-Dade County, believing it to be the appropriate jurisdiction for their case.
What factors are considered when determining a child’s place of residence?
A child’s official residence is typically established based on where they have lived for the past six months. According to family and matrimonial law attorney Nancy Chemtob, this six-month period defines their “home state.” For instance, if a family resides in Massachusetts for seven months and one spouse decides to pursue a divorce and move with the children to Colorado, this may not be permissible due to the six-month rule.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to note that a judge will also consider what is in the best interests of the children when making custody and residency decisions.
“In the realm of divorce proceedings, it’s quite common to ask questions like, ‘Is it in the child’s best interest to use anti-anxiety medication?’ or ‘Would it benefit the child to receive swimming lessons?'” notes Chemtob, who famously represented Mary-Kate Olsen during her 2021 divorce settlement. “Ultimately, the primary focus is on determining what serves the child’s best interests.”
However, the situation becomes less clear when it comes to residency. Jonas claims Florida as his home, while Turner asserts that Warwickshire, England is hers, even though neither of them has lived in either location for the past six months.
Turner asserts that England was meant to be their permanent residence.
In her petition, Turner underscores that she and Jonas never intended to establish Miami as their permanent residence. Their search for a permanent home began during their holiday stay in Warwickshire County, England, in December. Subsequently, they embarked on the quest to find a suitable “forever home” for their family. The couple departed from Miami on March 10, subsequently listing their jointly owned home for sale and dispatching numerous personal belongings belonging to their children to England.
According to Turner, their official relocation to England occurred on April 10. During the initial month, they resided in a rental property in London. On May 5, they transitioned to a rental residence in Warwickshire.
Turner emphasizes that their children swiftly became fully immersed and integrated into the daily life and culture of England. Willa, for instance, attends nursery school there, and their healthcare providers, including the dentist and doctor, are now based in England. The children actively participate in extracurricular activities, enjoy playdates, and engage in cultural pursuits. Notably, Willa has even taken up theater workshops, further highlighting their commitment to their new life in England.
According to Turner, the family spent time in Warwickshire from May 5 to July 31. Jonas then departed for his U.S. tour. Turner began working on a production involving Joan, which ran from May to September. Given their respective schedules, they decided that Jonas would travel with the children and a nanny in the U.S. since he had more available time to spend with them.
Upon completing her work on September 14, the original plan was for Turner to fly to New York, retrieve the children, and bring them back to England, while Jonas continued his tour.
In the midst of these plans, Turner reveals that on July 7, they had signed a contract to purchase a home in Little Stoke, Wallingford, Oxford, with the intention of finalizing the sale on December 2, 2023. However, a disagreement arose in New York on August 15, leading Jonas to file for divorce on September 5. Turner learned about this divorce filing through the media.
On a subsequent Sunday, they met to discuss their separation. During this meeting, Turner alleges that Jonas refused to hand over the children’s passports for their planned travel to England on September 20. Consequently, she initiated an international custody dispute case in both the U.S. and the U.K.
Categorize this case as a complex matter.
The major complexity in this situation arises from the ambiguity surrounding the home state. Turner and Jonas have been residing in various locations over the past year, as outlined in the documents she submitted.
While Miami may have been their legal residence until this year, their actual time spent there in the last 12 months amounted to only about 11 weeks. They resided in Warwickshire for a period of 12 weeks, spanning from May to July, but subsequently, the children have been residing in the United States. Notably, they haven’t stayed in a single location continuously for a period of six months.
“This situation presents a challenge because their living arrangements have been quite fluid,” Chemtob observes, as she examines the list of all the places they’ve called home in the past year. “If you look at the timeline here, it’s quite irregular. They haven’t settled in one place.”
Turner does make an effort to provide a foundation for why England is considered their primary home, highlighting factors such as the children’s established routines, access to medical and dental care, participation in extracurricular activities, and the opportunity to engage in playdates.
Although Miami may have served as their legal residence until this year, their actual presence there over the last 12 months was limited to approximately 11 weeks. They resided in Warwickshire for a continuous 12-week period, spanning from May to July. However, since then, the children have been primarily residing in the United States. Notably, they haven’t remained in a single location for a continuous six-month period.
“This situation poses a challenge due to the fluidity of their living arrangements,” Chemtob remarks as she reviews the list of all the places they’ve called home in the past year. “If you examine the timeline here, it’s rather irregular. They haven’t established a fixed residence.”
Turner does make an effort to establish why England is considered their primary home, emphasizing factors such as the children’s established routines, access to medical and dental care, participation in extracurricular activities, and the opportunity for playdates.
Chemtob expresses her stance, stating, “I would argue this if she were my client.” Nevertheless, she does not believe it will reach that stage. She anticipates that a resolution will be reached, saying, “I believe they’ll have to find a way to settle. It seems to me that if she genuinely wishes to relocate to England while he prefers to remain in the U.S., they could come to an agreement on a custody arrangement.”
Jonas also shares this optimism. In a detailed statement released to TMZ last Thursday by his representative, it reads, “This is an unfortunate legal dispute concerning a marriage that is unfortunately coming to an end. The use of terms like ‘abduction’ is, at best, misleading and, at worst, a severe misuse of the legal system. The children were not taken against their will. Following an agreement by both parties, the children have been under Joe’s care for the past three months and are currently with their mother.”
“Sophie’s claim appears to be motivated solely by a desire to relocate the divorce proceedings to the U.K. and to permanently remove the children from the United States.”
Jonas’s statement indicates his willingness to collaborate with Turner, but it seems she is not cooperating.
“Joe is advocating for shared parenting of the children, ensuring they are raised by both their mother and father. He is also open to the idea of the children being raised in both the U.S. and the U.K.” The statement emphasizes that the children were born in the U.S. and have spent the majority of their lives there, making them American citizens.