Re F. (Children) (Abduction: Removal Outside Jurisdiction) [2008] EWCA Civ. 854

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The application related to two sisters born in Africa in 1999 and 2002. The family led a peripatetic existence before settling in Mozambique in 2003/4. The parents were married.
In August 2005 the mother took the girls to the United Kingdom for the purpose of a vacation. However, she went to ground soon after her arrival. For a time the father was able to exercise telephone contact, but he was not able to uncover the location of the girls until September 2006. During this time the mother applied for asylum. This was refused and repeated challenges and appeals were equally unsuccessful.
Mozambique not being a party to the 1980 Hague Convention the father petitioned for the return of the girls under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. On 24 November 2006 an order to this effect was made, subject to undertakings. The mother was allowed the choice of accompanying the girls or letting them return with the father.
Visa and passport difficulties, allied to the mother’s vacillation as to how the return should be effected, led to significant delays in the execution of the order. In November 2007 the mother submitted that the welfare of the children needed to be re-evaluated.
On 31 January 2008 the trial judge discharged his original order on the basis that the girls had become more settled and that following the decision of the House of Lords in Re M. [2007] UKHL 55 [INCADAT Reference: HC/E/UKe 937] the paramount consideration of their welfare no longer indicated an order for summary return. The father appealed.