Custody Battle in Legal Limbo

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A child custody case that gained national attention this year has new roots in Nebraska courts.

In January, a Tennessee judge ordered a 9-year-old girl who had spent most of her life with a foster family in Tennessee... to be turned over to her biological father in Omaha after he spent years in prison.

Last month, a hearing had been scheduled at the Douglas County Courthouse to examine a custody battle over Sonya McCaul. But it didn't happen.

Even though a judge sent the case to Nebraska, it seems everyone's waiting to hear what the appeals court in Tennessee says first.

This summer -- Sonya McCaul celebrated her 10th birthday in Omaha. But she hasn't called Nebraska home for years.

For more than 8 years, David and Kim Hodgin cared for her in Tennessee. As foster parents, they took her in as an infant.

Her biological father from Omaha, John McCaul was serving a 15-year sentence on a firearms charge. He lost his parental rights -- and the Hodgin's adopted Sonya.

But when McCaul received a reduced sentence -- a juvenile judge in Tennessee overturned the adoption...and ordered Sonya to return to Nebraska to be with her biological father.

Her Tennessee family hasn't seen her since...and are fighting to get her back.

"We love her very much," David Hodgin told The Today Show this summer. "More than life itself."

Since January, Sonya has lived with her biological father in the Castelar neighborhood in South Omaha. We haven't heard much from their side. After all, John McCaul has what he wants -- his daughter.

For the first time on Friday, we're hearing how Sonya's doing in Omaha -- after 8-months here.

Jeff Courtney, the Omaha attorney for Sonya's biological father tells WOWT 6 News: "John McCaul's overriding concern and focus is the well being of Sonya. Based on what I know, she's excelling as a student and is socially well adjusted. She has friends and is solidifying her relationship with family in town."

The Tennessee Court of Appeals is expected to rule soon on the judge's initial decision to turn custody of Sonya over to her biological father.

It's likely the judges will also decide which state has jurisdiction -- Tennessee or Nebraska.

Until then -- it seems the Omaha court filings will be put on hold.

Everyone says they want what's best for Sonya -- it's just they disagree on what that is.