A Hungarian father has failed in his attempt to have his children returned from the UK.
In LS v AS, the parents met and married in Hungary in 1995 while they were still teenagers. Not long afterwards, their first child was born.
They experienced numerous separations and reconciliations over the course of their marriage, and had three more children.
Sitting at the High Court in London, Mr Justice Hayden noted that, unusually, a lot of the facts about the history of their marriage were agreed upon.
Neither parent disputed that the marriage was a “very unhappy” one, and the father did not dispute the allegations of domestic violence.
He admitted to numerous cases of violence against the mother, and two occasions where one of the children was a victim, saying he had “no justification” for it.
It was also agreed that the mother abducted the three youngest children, called ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ in the judgment, in June of last year in a “carefully planned” action and brought them to the UK.
The eldest child, ‘M’, is now 18 and still lives in Hungary with his maternal grandparents.
The father sought to have the children returned under the terms of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international treaty which allows children abducted by a parent to be returned to their home country.
The mother’s lawyer argued that there was a serious threat to the safety and wellbeing of the mother and children if they should be returned to Hungary.
The judge said it was “telling” that X described the time spend in the UK as “the happiest time she had experienced as a family”, and that Y had said despite initially missing her father, she would be worried about the father “fighting everybody” if they returned.
The arguments put forth by the father’s lawyer included the fact that the children had only lived in the UK for five and half months, that they had lived their entire lives until then in Hungary and that the older children’s education could be problematic due to linguistic challenges.
Mr Justice Hayden added that it was clear from the history of the marriage that the mother had tried to separate from the father many times but had always been “dragged back into his orbit”.
He declared that the only way the mother was able to free herself from that pattern was to leave Hungary.
The judge concluded by saying that the Hague Convention ultimately exists for the benefit of children, not parents or states.
With that in mind, he ruled that the children “face a grave risk of serious harm were they to be returned to Hungary” and denied the father’s application.