The Hague Court has dismissed an application for the return of a child to Hungary after the boy expressed clear objections.
In K v B, the 15 year old , referred to as ‘N’, came to England last summer to stay with his father. Both his parents were Hungarian and he had lived with his mother since their divorce in 1997. His father moved to England in 2011.
The boy did not return to Hungary following the visit and so the mother applied for his return under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The parents made conflicting claims as to whether N’s visit had been intended to be long term or merely temporary. However, there was no evidence that the mother had given clear consent to a permanent move. As she had not done so, the boy’s habitual residence remained Hungary and the father had therefore breached the Convention by keeping him in England.
However, N had expressed a clear wish to stay in England and complete his education in this country. The judge said the boy’s age and level of understanding was such that he should be invited to take part in the court proceedings and the judge went on to have a private discussion with N with help from an interpreter.
The judge considered Article 13 of the Convention, which sets out the circumstances in which a child’s objections may be take into consideration. It states that these may be considered if they have reached an appropriate age and level of maturity.
The courts had discretion to refuse an application in exceptional circumstances.
N had, said the judge, expressed clear, rational and thoughtful objections to a return to Hungary, citing economic, lifestyle and educational reasons for wishing to remain in England. There was nothing to suggest that he had been unduly influenced by his father. Therefore the use of judicial discretion was appropriate.
The judge concluded:
“I hope the mother will give N her blessing and explain to him that a judge has made this decision, that although she wanted him to come home and that she would like him to live in Hungary, that she understands and accepts the ruling of the judge who has said that, as a matter of law, he can stay.”