Family Law Hub

Child Abduction

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  • 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
  • The father was HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai and Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. The mother was Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, a daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan. The two children had come to this country with their mother in 2019, and arrangements for contact with the father were being considered. Upon the application of a number of media organisations, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, had decided that three judgments in the case should be made public. These included findings of fact that the father had on three occasions ordered and orchestrated the unlawful abduction and forcible return of two of his other children, involving on one occasion an assault at sea by armed commandos. The father had not appealed against the fact-finding judgment, but appealed against the President's decision to lift reporting restrictions. The Court of Appeal (Underhill, Bean and King LJJ) dismissed the appeal. Judgment, 06/03/2020, free
  • An appeal against an order for three children to be returned to Germany, following their wrongful removal to Wales and then England by the mother. This appeal was brought by the eldest child, who argued that the judge's approach had been flawed, first, as to whether the child should have had separate representation, and second, regarding the child's objections to returning to Germany. In Moylan LJ's view, the judge had reached the right decisions. The decision not to join the child was "plainly right", and the judge had not given too much weight or insufficient weight to any relevant factor. King LJ and Patten LJ agreed, and the applications were dismissed. Judgment, 04/03/2020, free
  • An application for the summary return to Zambia of two children of British nationality, brought to England by their South African mother. Zambia had signed the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, but had not been accepted by the United Kingdom as a reciprocating party, and so this was instead decided under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. Before the abduction, one child had made allegations of sexual abuse against the father, but unsupervised overnight contact had been required to continue. With this in mind, Holman J was not satisfied that returning the children to Zambia was in their best interests, not without much fuller inquiry and fact finding. The mother had stated that she would not return to Zambia, and the court could not risk the potentially disastrous outcome of the children being returned to an unprotected situation without her. The application was dismissed. Judgment, 12/02/2020, free
  • The father in child abduction proceedings had applied for directions to implement a return order. The mother had brought the children from Texas to England in 2017, and had been ordered to return them. The Court of Appeal had held that it would be intolerable to return the children to the USA without their mother, but her application for a humanitarian parole visa had been rejected by the American immigration service. Knowles J was unable to vary the Court of Appeal's order, and so did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the father's application. The parties would have to consider whether to apply to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration of its order. However, she urged them to consider a child-focused, consensual end to the litigation, before further hearings eroded whatever goodwill remained. Judgment, 03/01/2020, free

Latest know-how

  • In a tweet: Successful application made under the Hague Child Abduction Convention despite a delay where mother (“M”) had been unaware of the Convention prior to her application. Case note, 08/07/2019, members only
  • Fresh guidance issued by The President, 13 March 2018, covering procedure, case management and mediation in international child abduction cases Practice note, 13/03/2018, free
  • Mr Justice Mostyn on whether he has the power to revoke a return order in proceedings under the Child Abduction & Custody Act. Case note, 08/07/2014, members only
  • Judgment by the President in child abduction case raising 2 points of general importance: 1) what powers the court has to compel third parties to secure return of an abducted child where they do not have parental responsibility or control over the child and; 2) the role, powers and proper basis for making orders concerning non-subject children in such proceedings Case note, 08/07/2014, members only
  • Judgment concerning return of a child to the US where the mother had successfully obtained a ruling in Texas that the child had been wrongfully retained in the US, the father had complied with that order and then had appeals turned down by the High Court and Court of Appeal. Father's appeal allowed. Case note, 18/02/2014, free

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