Three children brought to the UK by their father should not now be sent back to Pakistan with their mother, a High Court has ruled.
I (Wardship: Removal From Country of Habitual Residence: Welfare) concerned a couple who married in 2004. The mother was Pakistani and the father had dual British-Pakistani citizenship.
Following the marriage, they lived in Pakistan with the husband’s family, and had four children – a boy, now aged eight, and three girls, now aged seven, five and two respectively.
In 2011, the three older children travelled to England with their father and his sister, their aunt, but only the older boy went to Pakistan with the father. The girls remained in England with their aunt.
The father divorced his wife by talaq – a form of traditional Muslim divorce. She claimed his family threw her out of the house, while he claims she left voluntarily.
When the youngest child was born a few months later, the father initially disputed paternity, alleging that his wife had been involved in an affair. However, DNA proved that he was the father. The baby remained with her.
The father returned to England, leaving his son living with members of his family. The mother launched legal proceedings in relation to the boy but he was quickly flown back to England.
The following year the father remarried. The mother meanwhile, made repeated attempts to enter the UK to try and make contact with her children, but she did not receive clearance to do until earlier this year. She then applied for the return of the couples’ three older children to Pakistan.
At the High Court, Mrs Justice Pauffley noted:
“Since May, there have been attempts at rebuilding the relationship between the three older children and their mother as well as introducing the father to M. Most unfortunately, the visits between the mother and children for the most part have been disheartening and miserable occasions. The children would seem to be at pains not to enjoy themselves in their mother’s company.”
The father briefly said he was willing to grant the mother’s application, saying he would move back to Pakistan with them, before changing his mind completely.
The children had been exposed to significant emotional harm by the father and his family, said the Judge, and their relationship with their mother had been seriously damaged. Nevertheless, she could not intervene because the children had become settled in their lives in England and had made it clear that they wished to remain in this country.
The Judge said:
“I do not consider it would be in the children’s best interests to move them from their current home. They are accustomed to life with their father…”
She hoped the relationship between the parents might improve following the case.
Read the full judgement here.
Photo of Lahore Fort by Nick Leonard under a Creative Commons licence