Family Court requests Romania take over child care case

Family Law|July 25th 2014

The Family Court has requested that Romania take over a case which concerns the care of a ten month old child.

In London Borough of Barking and Dagenham v C & Ors, the child, referred to as ‘A’ in the judgment, was born in the United Kingdom to unmarried Romanian parents.

Care proceedings were launched by the local authority shortly after A’s birth as the mother was said to be unable to care for him “in a way acceptable within this country and culture”.

At the time of A’s birth, the father was in prison after being convicted of a driving offence. He supported the transfer of jurisdiction to Romania as he claimed to be “a man of some substance” in that country.

Additionally, the father was not entitled to any state benefits in the UK due to his stint in prison so he could not afford to remain here for much longer. He also claimed he had a family who would support A in Romania.

Sitting in the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mrs Justice Parker considered making the application for a transfer under Article 15 of the Brussels II Revised regulations.

Article 15 allows member states of the European Union to transfer jurisdiction of a child care case to another country. A transfer can happen “upon an application from a party” or following a motion from the courts. Applications can also be made “from a court of another Member State with which the child has a particular connection”.

In this case, A had obvious connections to Romania, but it was up to Mrs Justice Parker to determine if a transfer would be in the child’s best interests.

The judge noted that the Romanian authorities had been “less than clear” whether they would assume jurisdiction if the request was made but added that “they would be highly likely to request repatriation of their citizen” if A was put up for adoption in England.

She said that the balance “lies overwhelmingly in favour of this being a Romanian case”, as both of A’s parents come from that country and he had family there.

Mrs Justice Parker also said that even though A was too young to appreciate “his cultural and ethnic roots” at the moment, he may grow up to feel “stranded, dislocated, deracinated and disinherited” if he is adopted in England.

She ruled that a transfer of jurisdiction to Romania was the best course of action, but declared that should the Romanian authorities reject or ignore the transfer, the case would continue in the UK.

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