Court of Appeal of Thessaloniki, decision 2207, 3 December 2012

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The proceedings concerned a child born in England in August 2010 to a British father and a Greek mother. The parents had met in the United Kingdom in 2007 and started cohabiting from May 2008; they never married. The father worked full time and the mother cared for the child, assisted occasionally by a baby sitter or the paternal grandfather.
The mother travelled four times between the child’s birth and the summer of 2011 to Thessaloniki, Greece. The parents decided to baptize their son in Greece. For this reason they travelled (separately) to Greece in August 2011. They subsequently went on holidays to Kassandra, Chalkidiki (Greece), where they had a big fight, which led to their mutual decision to end the relationship. The father returned to the United Kingdom some days later, whilst mother and child went to Thessaloniki, where they stayed at the mother’s flat.
Prior to the father’s departure the parties reaffirmed their decision to break up, but a few days later the mother reiterated her intention to return to the United Kingdom. Consequently, the father amended the lease on the family home, moved out, and bought a flat in the town of Slough (where he continues to live). The father prepared a room for the child in his new accommodation.
The mother arrived mid-September in the United Kingdom without the child, and informed the father of her decision to settle in Thessaloniki, because the living conditions would be better for her and the child, as would her professional prospects.
The father petitioned for the return of the child under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. The Thessaloniki First Instance Court accepted the application and ordered the return of the child to the United Kingdom (Case Nr. 9457/3.4.2012, reported in Armenopoulos 2013, 1704). The mother appealed.