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High Court: Polish boy can stay with mother in Northern Ireland

A Polish woman living in Northern Ireland may keep her two year-old son with her in the province, the High Court has ruled.

In the recently published case, the woman had met and married a fellow Pole in Belfast in 2010 but the separated later the same year. At that point the husband returned to Poland while the woman remained in Northern Ireland, which had been her home since 2004. After the couple’s son was born the following year, they reunited in Poland, UTV reports.

But the reconciliation was short-lived and the mother returned to Belfast in June last year. The father launched proceedings under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, claiming she had abducted the boy after intending to settle back in Poland. She denied this, saying she had only flown over under pressure to attempt a reconciliation. She also claimed her former husband had assaulted her, and she had only remained in Poland for several more months for fear that she would be arrested if she tried to leave.

High Court judge Mr Justice Gillen rejected the father’s application, saying the woman’s habitual residence (place where she lives for legal purposes) was Northern Ireland.

The judge declared:

“Standing back from the evidence and taking a general view rather than conducting a microscopic search, I have come to the conclusion that at the time of the alleged abduction, the defendant mother and the child were habitually resident in Northern Ireland.”

He said the evidence indicated that the mother’s return to Poland had been provisional and temporary.

“I have formed the general impression that she had no settled purpose in returning to Poland in September or November 2011 outside a vague notion of exploring the possibilities of reconciliation which in the event did not even get off the ground. The habitual residence of both her and the child remained in Northern Ireland.”

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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