Family Law Hub

Wrongful Removal

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  • 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 mother applied under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 (incorporating the Hague Convention 1980), and in the alternative under the inherent jurisdiction, for the return of her eight-year-old son to Russia. She contended that the father had wrongfully removed or retained the child in 2019. The father opposed the applications, raising issues of whether, at the relevant time, the child had been habitually resident in Russia and the mother had had rights of custody, whether the child would be at risk following a return, and whether the child objected to a return. The father's own prior applications, including for prohibited steps orders, had been stayed pending determination of the mother's applications. Cobb J found that the son had developed a sufficient degree of integration in life in Russia, while living there for ten months or so, to acquire habitual residence. The removal had indeed been in breach of the mother’s rights of custody. He did not believe that the son would be likely to suffer the “severe degree of psychological harm which the 1980 Hague Convention has in mind” (per Lord Donaldson) and the father therefore failed in his case under Article 13(b). Cobb J did not regard the son's objection to returning as being powerfully expressed or adamant. He reached the conclusion that a return to Russia was in the son's interests, where fully-informed welfare-based decisions could be made in a court to which both parents had ready access. Judgment, 27/07/2020, free
  • The father applied under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court for an order for the summary return of four children, aged 1, 9, 13 and 14, to the jurisdiction of Pakistan. The mother opposed the application. Both parents and all four children were Pakistani nationals, but the three oldest children had UK passports. The mother alleged domestic abuse, as did the three oldest children. The father alleged a scheme to marry the children off for immigration purposes. MacDonald J found that the father had at times been an arrogant witness, pre-occupied with the impact of the case on his reputation, and dishonest in his evidence. He found that the mother had also been "economical with the truth". The children had been habitually resident in Pakistan at the time of their removal, but a welfare case against their summary return was made out. Returning them, against their wishes, would not be in their best interests. The father's application was dismissed, and a stay on the mother's Children Act 1989 proceedings was lifted. Judgment, 24/07/2020, free
  • Both parents and the daughter were Brazilian nationals. The mother applied under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 for a summary return order pursuant to the provisions of the 1980 Hague Convention. The child had been habitually resident in Brazil and had been wrongfully retained in England following a holiday. The father resisted the application on Article 13(b) grounds, and on the ground that the child objected to returning for the purposes of Article 13. The maternal grandparents and a maternal aunt had alleged violent conduct towards the child on the part of the mother, and this had been confirmed by the child in conversation with the the Cafcass Officer. MacDonald J was satisfied that there was a grave risk that returning the daughter to Brazil would expose her to harm or an intolerable situation for the purposes of Article 13(b). It was clear that the daughter had settled well in England and was having her physical and emotional needs met here. He declined to make a summary return order and dismissed the mother's application. He emphasised that his decision was reached upon the very unusual facts of this case, i.e. that the holiday had provided the opportunity for the child to alert her other parent and the authorities to the risks she faced in Brazil. This was not a paradigm case of wrongful retention following a holiday. Judgment, 21/07/2020, free
  • The son had been born in Poland and brought to England by the mother. She now appealed from a return order made under the 1980 Hague Convention. Moylan LJ's view was that the deputy High Court judge hearing the case had not engaged sufficiently with the factors required to determine the issue of habitual residence, and it was unclear whether he had considered where the son was habitually resident at any date other than one particular month. His analysis had an undue focus on the mother's intentions and the question of whether she had formed an intention to stay permanently in England. Peter Jackson LJ and Newey LJ agreed. The father's application under the 1980 Convention would have to be reheard, unless the parents could come to an agreement. Judgment, 20/07/2020, free

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