Family Law Hub

Re DD (Inward Return Order) [2021] EWHC 607 (Fam)

The father had sought an order for the American mother to return their 16-year-old daughter from the USA. A residence order had been made in his favour and he had been her primary carer for many years. The mother had arranged a plane ticket and American passport for the daughter without telling him. He had found out when the girl phoned him from the plane. The Hague Convention did not apply because of her age, so an application for wardship and return orders had been made under the inherent jurisdiction. Although the parties subsequently reached agreement, and now presented a consent order, Peel J considered it appropriate in this case to deliver a judgment, partly because jurisdictional issues arose and partly because he was of the clear view that it would assist the parties and their daughter to achieve a degree of closure. He concluded that the child had not acquired habitual residence in the USA at the relevant time, and he sympathised with the father's profound concern about the way in which the daughter had left the UK. However, the wishes of a nearly 17-year-old were likely to be determinative, absent powerful or compelling welfare interest to the contrary, and the daughter had quite simply decided that her future was in the USA. A return order would be an exercise in futility. Peel J granted the consent order sought.

Judgment, published: 29/03/2021

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Published: 29/03/2021

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