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Judge orders return of child despite mother’s objections

The High Court has ordered the return of a 13 year-old to his country of origin, after her father applied for the teenager’s return under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.

The girl, referred to ‘A’ in case reports, was born abroad, in a country not named in the judgement. Her parents lived together without marrying for 14 years. They split and reconciled twice before finally separating last year.

Before the parents decided to go their separate ways, the family had booked a trip to London. After the separation, the mother changed the tickets to an earlier date and came to Britain with A without telling the father. They went to stay with her family, while the father, who still lives in the unnamed country, applied for A’s return under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

At the High Court, Mrs Justice Parker noted that the couple had argued about money.

“Finance is a particular theme for both with each presenting the other as unreasonable.  The mother complains that the father is a poor provider.  The father’s case is not that he is unwilling to pay but that the mother should pay her share.  They each give very different accounts of the history; save that their relationship has plainly been one of considerable conflict.”

The mother claimed that A “hates” her father while he insisted that “she has been forced to take sides, and enlisted in support of the mother’s desire to leave [him].”

He made a number of offers to the mother, including not supporting criminal prosecution and limited financial assistance related to A’s return. These included: “To pay for A’s flight but not for the mother’s.”

She argued against a return, saying her daughter did not wish to go back to her father’s country. The judge analysed these claims and even met A to discuss her views.

Mrs Justice Parker concluded that while A was old enough and sufficiently mature for her views to have weight in a court ruling, her claims that she did not wish to return were confused and contradictory.

The mother also claimed that she and A would be placed in a position of financial hardship by returning. However she did not clearly demonstrate why the maintenance her former partner offered was so low it would be place A in a situation of “grave risk” under Article 13(b) of the Convention.

The judge concluded:

“In this case it is in A’s interests to return. Quite apart from the underlying purpose of the Convention, it is in her interests to return to her home, her environment, her school, and to a place where she may be able to restore her relationship with her father.”

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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  1. Andrew says:

    A good judgment, Hague working as it should, abducting parents given no advantage by the fait accompli.

  2. Luke says:

    I don’t know why the Judge found this to be so difficult, if the case was as stated then this was effectively abduction – something that should never be rewarded.

  3. Tristan says:

    Whether she goes or not is an entirely different matter. I have no confidence these orders against mothers are ever enforced, witness the famous alienation case of 2010 where an order regarding change of residency to the father was simply ignored and the high court then rescinded its own order. In family law, there’s always a get-out for a recalcitrant mother. That’s a standing principle of UK family law.

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