Family Law Hub

Father v Mother [2020] EWHC 1964 (Fam)

An application by the father for the summary return to Australia of two children aged 5 and 8. The children had lived in Australia up until April 2019, when the family moved to England. The British mother filed for divorce in January 2020. The father alleged that the move to England had been planned with the intent to divorce him here, that he had been misled into thinking that they would be in England for only two years, and that his consent to the move had been vitiated by that dishonesty. Part of his case was that the mother had overreacted to an incident where he had hit the children with a belt in her absence. Lieven J did not accept that the mother had deliberately tricked the father into coming to England, and she cautioned against "an unfortunate tendency to try to analyse parents' relationships as if they were contractual agreements". The mother's reaction to him hitting the children had been wholly reasonable. At the time of the divorce papers being filed, Lieven J decided, the children had been habitually resident in England. She declined to make a return order under the inherent jurisdiction. She did not have the material that would allow her to determine that it was in the children's best interests to return to Australia. If the father wished, he could make an application under the Children Act and then apply for a specific issues order for their relocation, allowing the matter to be properly considered on full evidence.


Published: 04/08/2020

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