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High Court refuses return of children to Ireland

A High Court judge has refused a father’s request to return his children to the Republic of Ireland.

In R v S, the parents married in Bangladesh in 2001 before relocating to Ireland a year later. They both became Irish citizens in 2007.

Last July, the mother took their two children, aged nine and two, and moved to the UK. She alleged that the father had been violent towards her and the children throughout the marriage. He would “slap, punch, kick, head butt, push and shove” her, the mother claimed, as well as being “sexually violent” towards her.

The incident which prompted the mother’s relocation to the UK allegedly took place in June. She claimed that the father attacked her with a knife, causing her to flee the house with the children. They were sent to a women’s refuge but the father tracked them down. After he continued to harass the mother, she decided to leave the country.

The father denied all accusations of violence made against him and claimed to have “a wonderful bond and relationship” with his children. He also expressed confidence that they missed him. He applied for their return to Ireland under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is an international agreement which facilitates the return of children who have been taken by parents to other countries.

However, Article 13 of the Convention states that return can be refused if the child in question “objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of its views”. Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mrs Justice Theis noted that the eldest child strongly objected to being sent back to Ireland.

The judge said that the child’s objections were “founded on the violence he reports he suffered from his father” and that he genuinely believed he would not be safe if he were to return.

The father did not want the children to be separated. If the eldest child was able to remain in the UK, he would not seek the return of the youngest. Considering the eldest child’s very strong objections to a return, Mrs Justice Theis ruled not to send either of them back.

To read the full judgment, click here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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