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Supreme Court to consider Pakistan abduction case

A child case case involving a Pakistani family is to be considered by the Supreme Court.

ZA & Anor v NA concerned a couple of Pakistani origin and revolved around the important legal concept of ‘habitual residence’. The parents separated and the father returned to Pakistan. The mother later took the couple’s three children on holiday to see him, but she was prevented from returning to the UK at the end of their trip and “forced” to resume her relationship with the man. She had a fourth child with her former husband before fleeing back to the UK without the children.

The woman then went to court in the UK and was granted legal orders for their return. The three oldest had all been raised in the UK and so were ‘habitually resident’ here for legal purposes.

The father challenged the orders but failed to persuade Mrs Justice Parker to set them aside. She relied on the precedent set by a previous case to declare that the youngest child was ‘habitually resident’ in England despite having been born and raised in Pakistan.

The father and his uncle appealed and the case went before Lord Justices Thorpe, Rimer and Patten in October last year. They ruled that that the habitual residence of the three older children was indeed England and Wales but disagreed on the younger child born in Pakistan, called ‘H’ in case reports.

Lord Justice Patten said he could not accept the concept of  a child living abroad acquiring the habitual residence of his or her parents, and Lord Justice Rimer agreed.

But Lord Justice Thorpe insisted that “the defeat of abduction must be supported” and argued that the younger child took on his mother’s habitual residence.

She subsequently applied to appeal the case of her youngest child to the Supreme Court and she has now granted permission to do so. ZA & Anor v NA will be considered by Britain’s highest court on July 22 and 23.

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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