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  • The mother had unilaterally taken the children from Rome in July 2020. The children had not seen their father since. One child was born in England, the other in Italy after the family moved there in 2011. If not for the abduction, the children would have been interviewed by Italian social services in October 2020, ahead of the father's appeal regarding child arrangements being heard in November 2020. The Appeal Court of Rome granted custody to the father, describing the abduction of the children as "seriously harmful to their balanced emotional and physical development". The father had also commenced proceedings here under the 1980 Hague Convention in September 2020. It was not disputed that the children had been habitually resident in Italy at the time of removal. Mostyn J asked himself how the Appeal Court of Rome's interim custody order should be treated when considering the discretion not to return under article 13. He judged that "unless it could be shown that the order was made on a false basis (whether by virtue of fraud, mistake or a major unexpected change of circumstances), or that it was obtained by procedurally unfair means, then the exercise of discretion should almost invariably lead to the responsive order being given effect". The mother had not demonstrated that the children faced a grave risk so as to provide a defence under article 13(b), and although the children strongly objected to being returned to their father, in Mostyn J's view they had been subjected to indoctrination and manipulation, and thus he did not place much weight on their objections. The discretion against return would not be exercised, and the children had to be returned to Italy no later than Sunday, 14 February 2021. Judgment, 25/01/2021, free
  • An appeal concerning the extent of the obligation upon the court in England and Wales to enforce a foreign order in relation to children. The two children, a girl aged 16 and a boy aged 13, had lived in England and Wales for most of their lives and had been habitually resident here for at least six years. The judgment under appeal concerned applications by their father to enforce orders of the Spanish court granting him custody, and an application by the mother, made when the English court had jurisdiction, for an order that the children would live with her. The English court had refused recognition of the Spanish orders on the basis that they were irreconcilable with its own order for the children to live with their mother. In the view of Peter Jackson LJ, the judge had been right to find that she had the power to make welfare orders on the basis that the children were habitually resident in England and Wales and that the Spanish court was no longer seised. She was also right to not accept the father's argument that the recognition and enforcement proceedings should take priority. He expressed some reservations about her approach to the welfare assessment, but was not persuaded that her ultimate decision was wrong, and any procedural irregularity, whether or not it was described as serious, had not led to injustice. Moylan and Phillips LJJ agreed. The appeal was dismissed. Judgment, 22/01/2021, free
  • The case concerned child support for a child born in 1989. Although the child had been living with the father by 2005, arrears had accumulated before then, for which the father was now being pursued. A regular deduction order (RDO) had been made in the sum of £150.26 per week, against which the father sought permission to appeal, albeit later than allowed under the rules. HHJ Mark Rogers granted relief from sanctions, saying that it was important for this case to be resolved on its merits rather than as a result of a procedural default. Permission to appeal was also granted. He found that the rigorous test laid out in s 41E of the Child Support Act 1991 had not been satisfied: the arrears had not been extinguished and were capable of recovery. But in his view, no attention had been paid to the impact of relevant events in 2007, including an apparent declaration that the mother had withdrawn her authority for the arrears to be collected. The appeal was allowed. Making a new decision, he found that the points against making an RDO substantially outweighed those in favour, and so he declined to make one. Judgment, 22/01/2021, free
  • The mother was English, and the father was Libyan, with a British passport. They had three children, aged 3, 5 and 6. The mother had left Libya in 2018 but the children had remained there. She now applied under the inherent jurisdiction for orders that the court should protect the children, invoking "the ancient parens patriae jurisdiction": the Crown's obligation to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. She had not raised this in previous unsuccessful proceedings, relying instead on habitual residence and/or Article 10. Had this been a case about money, Mostyn J said, the failure to advance the parens patriae case first time round would not have been justified and therefore the current case would have stopped for Henderson abuse. However, because this was a case about children, he decided that this should instead be considered as part of the overall discretionary exercise as to whether the jurisdiction should be exercised. He found that the circumstances in this case were not sufficiently compelling to require the court to exercise its protective jurisdiction. The evidence showed that an order for repatriation which sought the assistance of the Libyan authorities would be futile. It did not show there had been a major deterioration in the security situation in Libya since the relocation to Libya, to which the wife had consented, nor since the previous order had been made, such that would justify it being set aside. The mother's application was dismissed. Mostyn J urged the father to allow the mother to have meaningful contact with her children. Judgment, 20/01/2021, 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

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