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Caught In Custody Fight, 5-Year-Old Boy Sent To Ireland

Five-year-old Jack Redmond hugs his mom at O'Hare International Airport, before boarding a flight to Ireland, after judges in both Ireland and the U.S. ruled he be sent back to Ireland to live with his dad. (Credit: CBS)

Five-year-old Jack Redmond hugs his mom at O’Hare International Airport, before boarding a flight to Ireland, after judges in both Ireland and the U.S. ruled he be sent back to Ireland to live with his dad. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 07/10/12 – 9:06 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A 5-year-old Orland Park boy at the center of an international custody battle was sent to Ireland on Tuesday to live with his father, even though he was born in the U.S. and has lived most of his life here.

Jack Redmond was born in south suburban Blue Island, and has spent all but a few months of his life in the United States. His mother, Mary Redmond, says the Chicago area is all the boy has ever known. His school, his doctor, his dentist, his friends — they’re all here.

Custody battles are messy, this one moreso because Jack’s parents were never married.

A United States federal judge has ordered that Mary Redmond abide by an Irish judge’s ruling and return to Ireland to live and share custody of the boy with his father, Derek Redmond. (Though they have the same last name, they were never married.)

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Jack was scheduled to fly to Ireland on a 6:45 p.m. flight from O’Hare on Tuesday.

Tuesday afternoon, his mother spent a few last moments with her son, since she doesn’t know when she’ll see him again.

“I’m shattered. I’m shattered. This is our home, and I don’t want him to go,” she said.

Derek Redmond is Irish, and when the couple split, he filed for custody in Ireland. An Irish court and the World Court in the Hague ruled Ireland had jurisdiction over jack’s fate, and ordered he be shipped back to that country this week to live with his dad, even though Jack was born in the U.S.

Mary, her family, and their attorney have been fighting to keep Jack – who has dual citizenship – in the U.S., claiming error of law.

Jack’s grandmother, Peggy Redmond said, “I feel in my heart that this isn’t final. He’s going to come home.”

Mary Redmond became embroiled in the custody battle when she decided to leave her boyfriend. She claimed he became physically and mentally abusive to her. She said she only agreed to an Irish judge’s order to equally share custody of the boy in Ireland so she’d be able to leave Ireland with him.

But, the judge’s order was for Mary Redmond to settle her affairs in the United States and return to Ireland to live in the tiny village of Ballymurphy, and have her son attend a two-room schoolhouse.

The custodial parent would change nightly. In other words, Jack is supposed to live with his mother one night, his father the next.

“It’s gonna be very hard to get him back, even if I do win the appeal, but I have to take that chance, because I can’t go there right now. They’re gonna put me in jail, and I’m no good if I’m in jail,” Mary said.

Because the 34-year old woman did not return to Ireland with Jack as ordered by the Irish judge, she was held in contempt of court and will be arrested if she returns to Ireland.

That’s why his grandmother is going with him to Ireland instead.

Mary Redmond tearfully said she told her son, “He has to go to Ireland for a while. Grandma will be with him, and I told him if things don’t work out, I’m just going to have to go over there. I can’t be away from him.”

Derek Redmond’s attorney, David Schaffer, said, “She presented all her facts to the Irish court. She presented all her facts to the Cook County court, she lost.”

He also claimed Mary brought this on herself.

“She didn’t like how the court ruled there, she went here, and then we filed a petition alleging that she wrongfully retained the child here,” he said.

While she waits on an appeal, Mary said her son’s life in Ireland will be “very confusing and hurtful for him, because he won’t understand why I’m not there.”

Her attorney was working on that appeal before the World Court in the Hague. Mary said she hopes for a ruling in her favor soon.

Schaffer said the Irish court’s ruling should stand, because – to Ireland – Jack is an Irish citizen.