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  • An application concerning two children: a girl and a boy, aged 3 and 9. The mother and father had separated during 2016 and had since divorced. The mother and children had moved from London to the countryside for the lockdown, but the mother now wished to make that a permanent move. The question for the court was whether it was in the son's best interests to live with his father in London or with his mother and sister in the countryside. The Cafcass report had concluded that it would be better for the son to stay with his father. The single joint expert had not been asked to make a specific recommendation, but made it clear that she thought the partial separation from the mother had been damaging to the son's mental health. HHJ Lloyd-Jones was not impressed by the single joint expert as a witness. In his view, the mother's evidence suggested that she was seeking to mould the children's lives around her own plans, while the father's evidence indicated that he had "a clear grasp of what his son's best interests were". After considering the welfare checklist contained in s 1(3) of the Children Act 1989, and the issues involved in dividing the siblings, HHJ Lloyd-Jones decided that on weekdays the daughter would live with her mother and the son with the father, and they would spend the weekends together, alternating between the parents, half-terms with the mother, with other holidays split evenly between the parents. Judgment, 12/04/2021, free
  • The daughter was four years old. In 2017 the mother had been ordered to return her to England from Poland. In 2019 she had been given temporary permission to take the girl back to Poland. The purpose of this hearing was to determine whether or not the preconditions for removal had been met so that the temporary relocation would be made permanent, and, if so, to consider the time she would spend with each parent, her future schooling, and the father's concern that the terms of the final order should not be susceptible to unmeritorious variation or challenge by the mother before the Polish courts. Williams J was satisfied that the application of the paramount welfare of the child and the welfare checklist led inevitably to the conclusion that she should make her life in the medium to long term in Poland, being cared for jointly by her mother and father. He granted the mother's application for leave permanently to remove the child from the jurisdiction to live in Poland, and made an order that the child would live with her mother and father in the city they had settled in. A specific issue order was made in regard to the child attending an international primary school. Judgment, 30/03/2021, free
  • A fact-finding hearing to determine whether the courts of England and Wales had jurisdiction to determine welfare issues in relation to three children. The applicant was the mother of the three children, the respondent the father. Their precise history was disputed, but both parents had come to England as asylum seekers. The mother claimed to be from Yemen and the father claimed to be from Somalia, and they had three children. One was born in Sheffield, one in Yemen, and, after the family left the UK in 2008, the third was born in either Yemen or Saudi Arabia. Ms Sarah Morgan QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, came to the view that some of the evidence placed before her had been misleading and intended to mislead. The case had unusually difficult features, caused by the passage of time, and there was no agreement between the parties even as to that which she was being invited to consider and determine. She found that the family had left (and the mother had consented to the children's departure from) England and Wales in 2008 for the purposes of a holiday and not as a permanent relocation. Immediately before leaving, the family had been habitually resident in England and Wales. Neither before nor once they had left had the mother indicated consent to a relocation. Thus there had been a wrongful removal in that the mother had consented to a holiday but not to a relocation, and/or there had been a wrongful retention when the father failed to arrange their return to England and Wales at the conclusion of the holiday. She found that the court had jurisdiction in respect of the two older children, and although the third child had never lived in or even visited the United Kingdom, jurisdiction in respect of her existed by reason of the doctrine of Parens Patriae. The matter was listed for consequential directions in consultation with Williams J. Judgment, 20/03/2021, free
  • An application by the father for interim permission to relocate from the UAE to England with the parties' three children, aged 10, 13 and 18. After living in the UAE for many years, he had lost his job in the oil industry, and would soon lose his right to live there. The mother was from Brazil and would need a visa to enter England. The view of the independent social worker was that if the boys had to leave the UAE it should be to England that they came. Francis J's view was that the family would not benefit from taking the boys to Brazil in the midst of the Covid crisis. He gave permission for the relocation. The mother would live with the children in a Surrey property owned by the father, while the father would rent a place to live. He encouraged the family to begin mediation sessions once they were to England. Judgment, 04/01/2021, free
  • An application for the summary return of the eight-year-old son to Australia, where he had always lived until being brought without warning to England by the mother. The application was made under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985, pursuant to Articles 3 and 12 of the 1980 Hague Convention. It was agreed that the son's habitual residence in Australia and the father's exercising of rights of custody at the material time had both been made out. The task for Mr Teertha Gupta QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, was thus to decide on a summary basis whether the mother had raised a valid defence under the 1980 Hague Convention and, if so, whether he should exercise his discretion not to return the child forthwith to Australia. He found that the Article 13(b) defence had not been established; there was no evidence to support the mother's assertion that the child had suffered severe symptoms of intolerable anxiety. Mr Teertha Gupta QC expressed concern that the mother's actions might be symptoms of a deeper wish to eradicate the father from the child's life. It was in the child's overall and long-term best interests to return to Australia forthwith. The father's application was granted. Judgment, 18/12/2020, free

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