The High Court has ruled that a four-year-old boy should be returned to his father following his wrongful removal from his home by his mother.
The case involved a Hungarian couple who began a relationship in 2010. They moved from Hungary to Germany with their son around the time of their marriage in 2017.
While there, the mother brought the boy to England against the father’s wishes.
In April 2018, the father came to England and was hospitalised after attempting suicide. When the mother came to visit him in hospital, he attempted to strangle her. After pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, he was given a suspended sentence and made subject to a restraining order.
He then returned to Hungary, where he is now settled. He applied to have his son returned to him under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980.
The mother relied on art.13(b) of the Convention, asserting that there was a grave risk that the return of the son to Hungary would expose him to physical or psychological harm. She claimed that the father had a history of domestic violence and that their son would be likely to be exposed to such domestic abuse in the event of a return.
The court held that the removal the son from Germany was wrongful and in breach of the father's rights of custody.
However, the essential question was whether any protective measures could be robust enough to protect the son from the risk of physical or psychological harm in the event of a return.
In that respect, the father had given several undertakings that were sufficient for the son’s protection. These included: to pay for the mother to return to Hungary; not to assault, harass, threaten or molest the mother or the son; not to remove him from her care and control; and to submit to supervised contact until the issue could be considered in the Hungarian court.
On that basis, an order would be made for son’s return to Hungary.
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Case Citations:  EWHC 56 (Fam), S v D (HAGUE CONVENTION: DOMESTIC ABUSE: UNDERTAKINGS: RETURN TO THIRD STATE) (2019) Fam Div (Cobb J)
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