Court requests Portuguese intervention in care case

Family Law|September 16th 2014

The High Court has asked Portugal to assume jurisdiction in a care case involving four children.

In B-C & Ors (Children), the mother travelled to the UK from Portugal in 2013 with four of her five children, despite the fact that the eldest of them was under the guardianship of someone else in Portugal.

Following the birth of her sixth child, the local authority and police became concerned about her parenting ability.

The eldest child was returned to Portugal under the terms of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is an international agreement which provides a legal avenue for the return of children who have been taken to other countries.

Oldham Council took in the four remaining children and placed them in foster care.

The father of the two eldest children and the baby wanted to have them returned to his care in Portugal. The father of the other child also sought a return. Neither of the fathers could speak any English.

The mother also expressed a desire to return home as things had “not turned out well for her in England”. Additionally, she expressed a desire for the family to be as geographically close together as possible.

Sitting at the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester, Mr Justice Holman noted that the local authority supported the return of the mother and children to Portugal.

He added that a request had to be made to Portugal under the terms of the European Union’s Brussels II Regulation. This governs conflicts of family law between member states of the EU. Article 15 sets out the requirements to transfer a case to a “better placed court”.

For a transfer request to be made, the children in question must have a “particular connection” with the other nation and both courts must be convinced that a transfer would be in the children’s best interests.

Mr Justice Holman concluded that the situation met the requirements and requested a Portuguese court accept jurisdiction. Until that happens, the English court would still be responsible for the case, he said.

To read the full judgment, click here.

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