Father fails to prevent child’s relocation to Sweden

Family Law|March 27th 2015

The Court of Appeal has dismissed a British father’s bid to prevent his five year-old daughter’s relocation to Sweden.

In Re B (Child) (Relocation: Sweden), the mother was born and raised in Sweden. In 2007, she moved to England and shortly thereafter began a relationship with the father. The couple moved in together in 2008 and two years later, their daughter was born.

The parents’ relationship soon broke down. After an attempt to unlawfully keep their daughter in Sweden, the mother was ordered to return to England in 2012 with the child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Upon her return, the mother applied for permission to relocate with her daughter to Sweden in what turned out to be “protracted” proceedings due to numerous adjournments.

During this time, the father made a number of serious allegations against the mother. These included a complaint that his daughter “may have been strangled by the mother because of bruises on her neck”. The judge ruled that such accusations were “untrue” and “highly exaggerated”.

However, the mother was struggling in England. She “had been using alcohol chronically and excessively” for a period of months starting in 2013. A psychologist who treated her said this could be because “she had not settled in London and was genuinely unable to foresee a happy future for herself and [her daughter] here”.

The mother’s central argument was that she was isolated in England, but would not be in Sweden. Therefore she would be able to provide a much better quality of life for her child if she could relocate. Mr Justice Mostyn admitted the case was difficult, but ultimately agreed with the mother and allowed her to relocate.

The father challenged this decision in the Court of Appeal. He took issue with the assessment of the mother’s problems as a symptom of loneliness.

Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, Lady Justice Black ruled that there was no evidence that Mr Justice Mostyn had been “wrong in the approach that he took to the material before him or in the decisions that he made”. She, along with President of the Family Division Sir James Munby and Lord Justice Briggs, subsequently dismissed the father’s appeal.

To read the full judgment, click here.

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  1. Nordic says:

    So, all mum has to do is to claim she is unhappy and, hey presto, the courts will allow her to remove a child permanently from the other parent (albeit of the lesser male variety). Having initially abducted the child illegally, the full judgement text further makes it clear that mum in this case had a history of alcohol misuse, questionable partners and there were serious concerns about her ability to care for the child. But it matters not to our senior judicial, because mummy is unhappy here.
    This judgement is effectively court sanctioning of child abductions and provides a recipe to prospective (female) abductors on how to get away with it. On the facts of case as presented in the full judgement, it appears deeply irresponsible. As a case law precedent (in the mould of Payne v Payne), it is reckless.

  2. Luke says:

    This case beggars belief – Nordic sums it up perfectly.
    Our judicial system is depressing and we need a clear-out of Judges who make decisions like this.

  3. Bolchedik says:

    While you might be shocked, Nordic, there is nothing whatsoever shocking about this by the troglodyte standards of Britain’s family courts. There are cases where the father has had grave concerns about child safety, but solicitors have advised them not to raise these in court, because they will only look combative or insolent. A father who has these concerns is totally helpless, within a system that masquerades as actually putting the child’s needs first.

    Given the base moral intelligence of judges in this country, I am surprised that the father in this story made it out of court without a prison sentence for having the audacity to stand up. To say that we just need a clear-out of the judges who are little more than ‘honorable’ agents for the Department of Work and Pensions, is an understatement. Many of them should be in prison for compromising child welfare so badly, and engaging in a form of social engineering that is not so dissimilar from child trafficking.

  4. Alistair Nunn says:

    I have a Swedish daughter of 12 years and I can say from experience that where the mother objects to sharing custody then the Swedish Courts are very unlikely to grant it. If his ex wants to make things difficult for him with regards to contact then she can do it very easily. This was the wrong decision and in time his daughter will be lost to him.

  5. TP says:

    The exact same thing happened to me. My ex-partner was allowed to take our son back to Sweden claiming she was struggling in England, but she had been in the UK for over 10 years!!
    She claimed depression and that she couldnt find a job, the reality is she just didnt want to work.
    We had shared care arrangement and our son always spent the exact same time with both of us. I have parental responsability also.
    I am absolutely disgusted by the judgement we got. My son, who was thriving and really happy in the UK was relocated to a remote part of Northern Sweden. My ex lied about her parents and family moving over there, she lied about having a job waiting for her straight away (9 months later she is still not working…), she lied about everything.
    It’s now impossible for my family to visit him (they live in France, the journey is super expensive and super long), they used to come over to the UK or us going to France about 5/7 times a year. Now that has been reduced to 2 times a year meaning he is really losing contact with them.
    I have lost my job because I took too much time off to go visit him (but hell I wouldn’t change that). It takes between 9 and 15 hours depending on flights and connections to get there and drive the 2 hours at the other end, most of the year in -20C on roads covered with snow.
    My son keeps telling me he wants to come back to the Uk and see his French family but there isn’t much I can do until he is of age of making his own mind.
    I am holding on but really really struggling to keep my chin up, this situation has destroyed me and I feel so much for anyone in the same boat. Hang in there, you’re not alone.

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