The High Court has ordered a mother to return her three children to the Netherlands, saying it was in their best interests to return to the country in which they had lived all their lives.
In the recently published case of Re H, R and E, the mother had brought her three children to the UK. The father then made an application for their return under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The mother insisted that he had agreed to them coming to the UK with her, and then acquiesced in them staying here. She also claimed that the father had been physically and sexually abusive, and so the children would be at great risk of harm and she would be placed in an intolerable position if she returned.
At the Family Division, Mr Justice Keehan noted that the father had not been consulted about his children coming to the UK, so he could not have consented as he claimed. In addition, the father had not filed his complaint under the Hague Convention for two months because he had been trying to reconcile with his former partner. Doing so did not mean he had agreed to them remaining permanently in the UK.
Mr Justice Keehan concluded that the mother’s claims of sexual abuse were untrue and there was not enough evidence to support her claims of physical abuse. The father had given legal undertakings that he would “regulate” his behaviour while with the mother, and this could be enforced by the courts and police in the Netherlands. The judge therefore dismissed the woman’s claim that her children would be at grave risk of harm.