Re M. (Children) (Abduction: Rights of Custody) [2007] UKHL 55 [2008] 1 AC 1288

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The application related to two girls aged 13 and 10 at the time of the hearing. The parents were married but separated in early 2001 whereupon the mother moved abroad leaving the girls in the care of the father.
In December 2004 the mother returned to Zimbabwe whereupon she had periodic contact with the children. In March 2005 the mother removed the children, taking them to England via Mozambique, Malawi and Kenya. On arrival at Heathrow airport the mother, who presented a Malawian passport, sought asylum. The mother’s application was refused, but proceedings challenging that decision continued and were on-going at the time of the Convention application.
The father learnt of his rights under the Convention in late 2006. Administrative delays led to his petition not being filed in the High Court until May 2007.
On 19 June the High Court ordered the return of the children, Re M [2007] EWHC 1820 (Fam). The Court accepted that the girls objected to going back and were of a sufficient age and maturity for their views to be considered, and that they were settled in their new environment, but, the trial judge nevertheless exercised his discretion to make a return order.
On 12 September the mother’s appeal was dismissed. The Court of Appeal found that the trial judge had not erred in the exercise of his discretion in making a return order: Re M (Children) [2007] EWCA Civ 992 [INCADAT Reference: HC/E/ UKe 936]. On 24 October the mother was granted leave to appeal to the House of Lords.