Court refuses to send children abroad to their father
A court has refused to send four children back to their father in Pakistan even though they had been removed without his consent by their mother.
The father and mother were Pakistani nationals. They had married in 1998 in an arranged marriage. The eldest three children, aged 14, 13 and 9, had UK passports. The youngest child, aged one, had a Pakistani passport. Between 2009 and 2017, the family lived in both Pakistan and the UK.
However, in 2017 they returned to Pakistan. The parents separated in May 2019. In September 2019, the mother removed the children without the father's consent and brought them to the UK.
The father claimed that it was so they could marry their maternal cousins in order to secure their entry into the UK. The mother, however, alleged that she was simply escaping domestic abuse from the father.
On 27 February 2020, the father issued proceedings in the High Court for the return of the children to Pakistan.
He submitted that the children had been habitually resident in Pakistan when they were taken.
The court found in favour of the mother. It accepted that in September 2019, the children were habitually resident in Pakistan.
It also accepted that by December 2019, less than two months after the children's arrival, they had not settled in so well as to become habitually resident here.
However, the children had now been in the UK for some 10 months, having spent a considerable time in the country in the past. Whilst their initial period in the UK was unsettled, they were now in stable housing and education.
The elder children had indicated a very strong wish to remain living in England and had trenchant views regarding contact with their father. Their wishes not to be returned to Pakistan carried significant weight.
Considering the change of circumstances, a return to Pakistan would be significantly de-stabilising for them.
The mother was the children's primary carer and the elder children had corroborated her allegations of domestic abuse. On balance, it was not in any of the children's best interests for the court to make an order for their return to Pakistan.
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Case Citations:  EWHC 1863 (Fam) H v N (2020) Fam Div (MacDonald J)
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