The father of a five year-old boy may take him to an occasionally dangerous country, the High Court has ruled.
The case concerned an “Asian” man and his partner, who came from an unspecified European country. Both have studied and worked in England for a number of years.
Following their acrimonious separation shortly after the birth of ‘W’, the father continued to have see his son. But conflict arose when the father announced plans to take the boy to visit his family back in his country of origin, which also remained unspecified to protect the boy’s identity. The country in question had experienced conflict and the mother was very worried about her son’s safety during the planned trip.
The father applied to the High Court for permission to go without the mother’s conset. His ex-partner explained to the court that she was anxious about “civil disorder” in the country and the possibilityi of the father’s parents being kidnapped or assassinated because both were “very senior civil servants”. The country had experienced terrorism in the past. She would not be able to help W, she said, if he got into difficulties.
But, sitting at the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Jackson concluded that the boy would benefit from visiting his father’s family in spite of the “unrest” in the country. The potential gains outweighed the risks, he believed.
“I think the risk to [the boy’s] security is a background factor, but I find that it is hugely outweighed by the short, medium and long-term advantages to him of having his own experience of his paternal heritage and his knowledge of his large paternal family.”
The veteran judge described the well-travelled W as “a very modern child with an unusually rich heritage.”
In his ruling, Mr Justice Peter Jackson stressed that the father’s parents lived in a prosperous area in a well-guarded home. A distinction needed to be made, he explained, between dangerous destinations and people’s country of origin.
“To say to somebody that they should not take their children on holiday to a country that is experiencing unrest might be a very strong argument if they were going there purely for pleasure, but it has to be looked at in context if you are in fact addressing a family who originate there and who may have entirely different needs. In this case what is significant, to my mind, is that the father himself and his two brothers and his sister, and all the six children of his siblings and his parents have lived in stable conditions. There is no report of any attempt, still less a successful one, to threaten their security and the cousins who W knows from their visits to London have grown up safe and well.”
The Judge therefore ruled that W should be allowed to travel back to the country with his father for a maximum period of two weeks a year.