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Hague Convention 1980

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  • The mother applied for the summary return of three children from Wales, where they lived with the father, to the Republic of Ireland. A fourth child lived with the mother. During a period of homelessness, the mother had asked the father to care for the four children on a temporary basis in his home in Wales. Upon her finding accommodation, the father had declined to return them, and she had collected the youngest from his school and taken him back to Ireland. The court had to determine: the nature of the agreement between the parents; whether the father had wrongfully retained the children; whether the children had been habitually resident in the Republic of Ireland; whether an article 13 exception had been established; and, if it had, whether the court should exercise its discretion not to order the children's return. Nigel Poole QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, concluded that the evidence did not establish that the mother had secured suitable accommodation by the given time. He was not satisfied that the father was guilty of wrongful retention of the children at any point prior to the application being made, and so the Convention and Regulations could not assist the mother in her application for summary return. The children's time in Ireland had been chaotic and peripatetic; they remained habitually resident in the United Kingdom throughout. The defence under Article 13(b) was made out: they should not be expected to tolerate returning to Ireland without the reassurance of stability and security. Had he found that there had been a wrongful retention, he would have had no hesitation in exercising his discretion so as to refuse return. The mother's application for summary return was dismissed. Judgment, 24/06/2020, free
  • The son had travelled to the United Kingdom with the mother for a three-month stay, with the father's consent. When they did not return the father made an application under the Hague Convention 1980. The mother relied upon the defence under Article 13(b), alleging domestic violence and drug use. It was agreed that the mother had retained the son here at a time when he was habitually resident in Australia and that this retention breached the father's custody rights. Theis J did not doubt that if the mother returned to the Australia with the child she would suffer emotional distress and mental anguish, but her pre-existing depressive and anxious tendencies would be a reality of her life wherever she was and could not be solely or mainly linked to a return to Australia. The issues raised did not, in Theis J's judgment, meet the threshold in Article 13(b). She was satisfied that the protective measures agreed would be able to mitigate any harm. She would order that the son should return to Australia, on a date to be fixed once current travel restrictions were lifted. Judgment, 21/06/2020, free
  • An application under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 and the Hague Convention 1980 for the eight-year-old daughter to be returned to Spain. The mother had brought the child to the United Kingdom without warning, and had refused to disclose their location. She asserted that there had been a history of domestic abuse. It was common ground that the removal was in breach of the father's rights of custody, and that the removal was from the child's country of habitual residence. The mother raised four defences: settlement under Article 12; grave risk of harm under Article 13(b); the child’s objections to return under Article 13; and breach of the daughter's human rights under Article 20. Mr Robert Peel QC was not convinced that the evidence demonstrated the physical stability, integration and permanence needed to establish the defence of settlement. The mother fell far short of establishing that there was a risk of harm to the child. The defence regarding the child's objections was abandoned by the end of the hearing, but would have also failed, as did the defence under Article 20. An order for the daughter's return would be made. Judgment, 19/06/2020, free
  • The father applied under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 for a summary return order pursuant to the provisions of the 1980 Hague Convention, in respect of two children, aged seven and four. The children were born in Belgium and had always lived there until being taken by both parents to Spain for six weeks, and then to England by the mother, in the company of a new acquaintance with multiple convictions. The move to Spain, it was suggested, had been to prevent the Belgian social care authorities from undertaking safeguarding interventions. However, the Belgian authorities informed the court that they would not be taking any active steps towards the return of the children to Belgium, and that in their view the children should be with the mother. The local authority had completed a parenting assessment of the mother which concluded that she was unable to care safely for the children. The father had been accused of domestic abuse, and though in England at the time had failed to attend assessment sessions due to drug use. The children were now in foster care, and in regular contact with the mother. MacDonald J found that the exception under Article 13(b) of the 1980 Convention was made out. There was no evidence before the court to confirm who would take custody of the children upon arrival in Belgium, what arrangements would be made for their care, or how contact with their mother would be facilitated. Ordering their return to Belgium would place them in an intolerable situation for the purposes of Article 13(b). The father's application was dismissed. Judgment, 14/06/2020, free
  • The daughter and both parents were British citizens. The mother had returned to England with the daughter, telling the father that it was for a short break. The father sought the daughter's summary return to Lanzarote in Spain, where he lived. The mother opposed the application on the grounds that the child objected to returning to Lanzarote, and that there was a grave risk that a return would, as per Article 13(b) of the 1980 Hague Convention, cause physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation. The CAFCASS Officer told the court that the child was very firm in her view that she would not wish to return to Lanzarote without her mother. Mr David Rees QC found that the child was objecting in Hague Convention terms to the return, and he was satisfied that he should exercise the discretion not to return her. Also, if the child returned alone, the father would not be in a position to both support her financially and provide care for her, and thus the objection under Article 13(b) was also made out. The application was dismissed and the child would remain in England and Wales. Judgment, 17/03/2020, free

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