Family Law Hub

Hague Convention 1980

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  • An order had been made for the nine-year-old son to be returned to Russia. The father had arranged for the child to make an application for asylum, and one of the questions to be resolved was now whether this prohibited the enforcement of the return order. Mr Darren Howe QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, adjudged that the commencement of an asylum application by or on behalf of a child did indeed prohibit the enforcement of a return order made under the Hague Convention 1980. No exception was available under the law even if the court had concluded that the asylum application was a sham and a tactic to delay the return order. He ordered a stay of the return order until 15 days after the tribunal's decision upon the asylum application. But if there were thus to be a significant delay, the issue of contact between mother and child in the meantime would need to be addressed. A further hearing as to this would follow. Judgment, 09/09/2020, free
  • The mother appealed from a return order made under the 1980 Hague Convention. She contended that the judge had been wrong to decide that the children were habitually resident in Germany at the date of her wrongful retention of them in England. It was submitted on her behalf that the judge had focused on whether the children had lost their habitual residence in Germany, rather than on the relevant question of whether their residence in England had acquired the requisite degree of integration and stability. In Moylan LJ's view, the appeal had to be allowed. On a proper application of the appropriate test, the children had been habitually resident in England at the date of their retention, and thus the father's application under the 1980 Convention had to be dismissed. Simler LJ and Sir Stephen Richards agreed. Judgment, 25/08/2020, free
  • The father applied under the 1980 Hague Convention for the return of his three-year-old son to Australia. The mother resisted the application on the grounds of habitual residence in England, acquiescence, and a grave risk of physical or psychological harm to the child, or his being in an otherwise intolerable situation, if the court required his return to Australia. Theis J decided that the defence on acquiescence would not have succeeded, but the mother had established that the protective measures put in place would not have been sufficient to reduce the risk to a level that fell below the Article 13(b) threshold. Either way, Theis J had already reached the conclusion that the son's habitual residence at the relevant time had been in this jurisdiction, and thus there had been no breach of Article 3 of the Hague Convention. The father's application was dismissed. Judgment, 12/08/2020, free
  • The mother appealed against the judge's refusal to set aside a return order under the 1980 Hague Convention. The mother lived in England and had dual British/Bosnian nationality. The father was a Bosnian national and had always lived in Bosnia. She had returned with the child to England in circumstances which had involved a restraining order being made against the father by the Municipal Court in Sarajevo. The judge had found that the son was habitually resident in Bosnia immediately before his removal, that there had been no consent or acquiescence to his removal, and that the Article 13(b) threshold of grave risk of harm or intolerability had not been crossed. This appeal regarded the latter finding. Moylan LJ found that the Article 13(b) risk was clearly established. The judge had been wrong to discount the effect of the father's breaches of his previous undertakings, and the judge's approach to the mother's mental health had been flawed in a number of respects. It was clear that there would be a grave risk of the son being placed in an intolerable situation if they were to return to Bosnia and be separated. Peter Jackson LJ and Carr LJ agreed. The appeal was allowed and the father's Hague Convention application was dismissed. Judgment, 11/08/2020, free
  • 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. Judgment, 04/08/2020, free

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