Ludwig v. Ludwig, 2019 ONCA 680

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The father, a German citizen, and the mother, a Canadian citizen, married in 2001 and had four children (born in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2009). They lived almost exclusively in Germany from their marriage until August 3, 2017, when they moved with their children to Ontario, Canada. The father entered Canada as a visitor and never received a work permit, while the children obtained extended visas, which were to expire on September 30, 2018. The couple bought a house and brought most of their belongings from Germany to Ontario. During their time in Canada, the children attended school, made friends, and developed a close relationship with their maternal extended family.
In March 2018, the couple separated. The father made plans to return to Germany. The mother wanted to remain in Ontario with the children. In July 2018, the mother issued a divorce application and asked for the custody of the children in Ontario.
In August 2018, the father commenced an application for the return of the children to Germany under the Convention. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered the involvement of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL). The OCL counsel summarized the children’s views and preferences to the Court, stating that the three oldest children wished to remain in Ontario but that the youngest did not express concrete views. On January 4, 2019, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed the application on the basis that the children were habitually resident in Ontario. The father appealed this decision.