GB v RNB concerned a couple from the eastern European country who married in 2007. Their son – referred to as ‘R’ in court documents – was born in 2009. The mother made an initial visit to the UK in September 2010 but returned to Romania the following spring. The couple began and then abandoned divorce proceedings following a reconciliation. In August 2011 the couple moved to York with R, but the relationship then quickly broke down again. The police attended three separate incidents of domestic violence against the mother.
The husband returned to Romanian September and reportedly then began divorce proceedings in that country. However, the woman claimed not have received any notification of these for some time. She said she did discover that the proceedings had begun until she read a post on social networking site Facebook in May of last year but still did not receive any documents in relation the proceedings until December. The father briefly returned to York later that month for a supervised visit with his son at a contact centre but this ended badly when he refused to leave and the police had to be called.
Contact and residence proceedings began in Romania last month (February 2013). The woman did not attend the hearings “due to fear that violence may be threatened against her if she returned to Romania” and was instead represented by a solicitor. The courts adjourned the proceedings until 4 April to consider the woman’s documents and claims in relation to the case.
Around the same period, the UK courts ‘registered’ (recognised the validity of) an order of the Romanian courts granting care of R, the former couple’s son, to his father until the divorce proceedings had been completed. The woman appealed this registration on the basis of Brussels II Revised, an EU convention governing legal conflicts in family law. She claimed she had not been properly informed of the proceedings.
“The combination of documents and information provided by the Father very strongly suggests that the Mother has been well aware of what is going on in the Romanian Courts and she has had every opportunity to put her case before the judges there.”
Her appeal was therefore dismissed. But the judge also placed a ‘stay’ (delay) on enforcement of the order until after the completion of the divorce hearing in Romania, noting:
“It would be wrong for this court to allow the Romanian order to be enforced ahead of that hearing in case the Romanian Court on that occasion should think it right to change its decision. Therefore, I place a stay on any application to enforce the Romanian Order until 19 April 2013 to allow the parties to adjust to the decision taken in Romania.”
Mr Justice Peter Jackson concluded with a few plaintive comments about the couple’s son:
“It is not likely to be in his best interests to live with one parent, whoever that is, and see nothing of the other parent, so I hope that the parents will now start to treat each other with some respect for the sake of their son.”
Photo of York city walls by Lisa Jarvis via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence