Family Law Hub

Wrongful Removal

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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
  • A four-year-old girl with British citizenship had been taken to Egypt, and the court had to determine whether she had been habitually resident in England and Wales before then and thus wrongfully removed, and, if she had not, whether the court had jurisdiction to order her summary return. The father contended that the removal was pursuant to the terms of an order made in Beirut. Both parents were Lebanese nationals, and both were currently in England, the child having been left with family members of the father. The mother had accused the father of domestic violence. MacDonald J was satisfied that the child had been habitually resident in this jurisdiction, and that the court retained jurisdiction under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. The daughter was a British citizen and both parents were here and intended to remain here, making this the appropriate forum for determining the welfare issues. Returning the daughter from Egypt would create the best chance of her resuming contact with her mother, and there was no one in Egypt with parental responsibility for her. She should be returned from Egypt. The existence of the Beirut order did not prevent this. 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 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
  • An application by the father pursuant to the Hague Convention 1980. The child was born in Brazil but the family had subsequently moved to England. The parents had been on an extended visit to Brazil when the mother left with the child, first to the USA and then returning to the UK. The father argued that the child was habitually resident in Brazil and that this was a wrongful removal. Judd J held that, while the family had not yet decided where they would live in the long term, the mother and child were habitually resident in England. Given the mother's long-standing residence in the UK and the plans that she and the father had made, she did not lose her habitual residence during that trip to Brazil. Though the father no doubt felt wrong-footed and insecure when the mother left, the plan to return to England had not changed and he had not revoked his consent to that. The father's applications were dismissed. Judgment, 04/02/2020, free

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