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High Court declines to suspend return order in multinational custody case

A British mother who absconded last October in the midst of a bitter custody dispute has failed in her attempt to have a return order against two of her children suspended.

Jennifer Jones has been embroiled in a lengthy custody dispute with the children’s father, Spanish army officer Tomas Palacin Cambra, since the couple separated in 2008.

The father had successfully applied for the children to be returned to Spain under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 2008.

Later, the children travelled to Wales to visit their mother for a summer holiday. However, the mother made allegations against the father and refused to return the children.

A complex series of proceedings followed. In October last year Mr Justice Hedley ordered that the four youngest children should be returned to Spain. The eldest – Sara – had been made a ward of court and already returned to Spain.

When the mother was unsuccessful in her attempts to appeal this order, she absconded with the children. After the family was located a few days later, Jones was arrested and her children placed with foster carers. Later the father and Sara travelled to Wales to collect the children. However two, Tomas, aged 13, and Jessica aged 15, refused to return with them.

Later unsuccessful attempts were made to establish a good relationship between the children and their father. Further complex proceedings followed and earlier this month, the case appeared before Mrs Justice Theis in the High Court.

She was asked to consider enforcement of the return order against Jessica and Tomas originally issued by Mr Justice Hedley in October. The mother requested an indefinite stay (suspension) of the order, while the children’s legal guardian requested a stay until July this year.

The judge declined to make a fresh return order but also declined to order a stay of the return order. She concluded:

“I am deeply concerned about the emotional health of this family, in particular all the children, if the parents continue their past behaviour into the future.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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