Two children must be returned to their father in Canada, a High Court judge has ruled.
The children’s parents were both Britons who married here in 2003. A few years after the birth of their second child, the entire family emigrated to Canada. The move did not go smoothly, especially for the mother, although the judgment did not go into detail about the problems that occurred in the parents’ marriage. In September 2015, the mother took the two children back to England with her. Soon after she returned, she applied to an English court for a prohibited steps order to stop the father taking the children away from her.
In response, the father launched proceedings in Canada for sole custody of the children, which he was awarded. As the children were still in England, he then had to make an application under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in order to have them returned to his care in Canada. In February 2016 he launched these proceedings.
At the High Court, the mother accepted that the children legally lived in Canada and that her actions were unlawful. However she still insisted that the children should remain in England, claiming that the father had accepted the move.
She claimed that the father’s initial delay before he began the Hague Convention proceedings showed that he had actually accepted the move. Additionally, she claimed further evidence of this was the fact that he had engaged with the English proceedings she originally launched following her arrival in the UK.
The father denied this was true and insisted that the mother had come “nowhere near establishing a subjective intention … that the children should remain in the jurisdiction of England and Wales”.
Mr Justice MacDonald said that he did not think the father had accepted that the children had permanently moved to England, noting the proceedings he had issued back in Canada. The judge concluded that he must order the return of the children and that the Canadian courts could deal with any remaining issues over their care.
Read R v R in full here.