A father has been accused by a judge of showing “bad faith” in his attempt to prevent his children being returned to live with their mother.
The case involved a family who had lived between the UK and South Africa until the parents had separated in January 2017 following allegations of the father's alcohol abuse.
The mother moved the children to the UK with her new partner in March 2017. When the father refused to consent to her taking the children back to South Africa in September 2017, she abducted them to South Africa.
In August 2019, a parenting agreement was signed by both parents in South Africa which provided that the children would stay with the mother and have regular holidays with the father in the UK.
In December 2019, the mother flew to the UK with the children for their agreed three-week holiday with the father. He immediately applied for an order in the English courts preventing their return to South Africa.
The guardian gave evidence that the children should return to the place of their habitual residence with the mother and that was their expressed wish. The father stated that he did not agree with the parenting agreement and that he had concerns about where the children were living and their circumstances.
The court ruled against him with the judge saying that the father had acted in bad faith by trying to use the courts in England to his advantage.
If he had misgivings about the parenting agreement he had signed, the appropriate place to raise them was the court in South Africa. Instead he had selected the process which he considered was the most favourable to him.
Both parents could be seriously criticised for their past behaviour during the children's lifetimes, but when they signed the agreement, they mutually agreed to put the past behind them.
The physical, emotional and educational needs of the children were best served by them returning to the place of their habitual residence in South Africa.
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Case Citations:  EWHC 893 (Fam), RE I & L (CHILDREN) sub nom MW v LD (2020) Fam Div (Mostyn J)
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