The Family Court has told a father he must reveal the whereabouts of his six-year old son.
In what Mr Justice Peter Jackson described as a “highly unusual” case, the father maintained that he did not know where his son was despite a prior judgment which declared that he did.
The boy’s parents were first cousins from Afghanistan who have moved to England. The father arrived in 2000 and became a citizen in 2007. He married the mother in 2006 back in Afghanistan and in 2009 she gave birth to ‘Z’. Shortly after his birth, Z was placed in the care of the parents’ uncle so the couple could travel to England.
Not long afterwards, the parents’ relationship ended and in 2011, the mother launched legal proceedings in order to have Z brought to England. The father claimed that Z had “disappeared from the uncle’s home in January 2011” and insisted “that his whereabouts was unknown”. The judge in that case made a location order which required the father to tell the court where Z was but this was later overturned in the Court of Appeal. They ruled that the English courts did not have jurisdiction over the case. However, the Supreme Court later ruled that due to the father’s British citizenship, Z was also a British citizen despite never having set foot in the UK.
Following this decision, the mother renewed her efforts to get Z to England. In a fact finding hearing, the father continued to deny any knowledge of his son’s whereabouts but the judge was not convinced. Based on evidence such as a Facebook post by the father in 2012 that featured Z at two and a half years old, the judge declared that the father did know where he was.
At the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Peter Jackson carefully considered the case before ordering the father to tell the court where Z was within 14 days. He said that until the mother knows the location of her son is “a high level of concern must exist about his welfare”.
The judge noted that there was “no precedent for an order of this kind”, which he said reflected the “highly unusual facts” of the case, but that this “cannot be a reason for inaction”.
Read Re H (Jurisdiction) in full here.
Photo by Véronique Debord-Lazaro via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.