Family Law Hub

Re X (A Child) [2019] EWHC 479 (Fam)

The father sought an order requiring the return of his daughter to the Czech Republic pursuant to the 1980 Hague Convention. After moving out, the mother had told him that they were living in the Czech Republic, and he had then discovered from her sister that they were actually living in England. Divorce proceedings had been initiated but not completed. The mother acted in person, with the help of a non-professional translator. Her belief was that the child would be subject to anti-Roma racism if returned to the Czech Republic. The court was required to determine: (a) whether the child was habitually resident in the Czech Republic prior to her removal to England in 2018, so as to engage the powers and obligations conferred by the 1980 Convention; and (b) if the 1980 Convention was engaged, whether the mother, who opposed the return of the child to the Czech Republic, could establish that such a return would give rise to a situation described in article 13(b) of the 1980 Convention. HHJ Hillier found that the daughter was habitually resident in the Czech Republic. No risks raised by the mother in respect of article 13(b) reached a level of seriousness as to be anywhere near to "grave". HHJ Hillier's discretion as to whether to return the child had not been engaged by a potential defence under article 13(b), but even if it had been, she would have exercised her discretion firmly in respect of return so that the child would be placed in the Czech Republic whilst her future welfare was determined.


Published: 07/07/2020

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