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Judge empties courtroom so warring parents can talk in private

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A High Court Judge ordered a courtroom to be cleared so the warring parents of an 11 year-old could talk.

The one-time couple did so, for more than 30 minutes, and when Mr Justice Hayden and counsel re-entered, the father said he would contact family members in Oman to try and arrange for the return of their 11 year-old daughter and eight year-old son to England.

A former bank clerk from Portsmouth, the father had a Middle Eastern background. Four years ago, following the end of his relationship with the mother, he took their children abroad, later returning to England without them. When he refused to reveal their whereabouts he was given a four year jail term for child abduction and served two.

Meanwhile the mother continued to pursue him through the courts, seeking the return of her children, who she believes are staying with the father’s sister in Oman. She told Mr Justice Hayden that the older girl, who turns 12 today, had unexpectedly telephoned her just days previously and said:

“I really miss Christmas, I miss cold weather and I miss you.”

The conversation came to an abrupt end when the connection was lost she said.

During the hearing, the mother’s barrister suggested the father be returned to prison for breaching earlier court orders to return the children. Instead the Judge cleared the court.

The father’s apparent change of heart following the parents’ private conversation was cause for “real hope” said Mr Justice Hayden.

The case will return to court at a later date.

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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