• Ceylan Kahya

Emotional ties can determine ‘home location’ in adoption cases

Emotional ties can determine ‘home location’ in adoption cases

The High Court has ruled that in adoption cases, emotional ties can determine where a child ‘has his home’. It’s not just a case of where the child is living at the time.

The issue arose after a stepfather applied for an adoption order in respect of a young man, referred to as Y, who had just turned 18.

The application was made the day before Y's 18th birthday. The stepfather, Y, and his mother were Swiss nationals.

The stepfather lived in London but also had a flat in Switzerland. He and Y's mother had been married for 10 years but divorced in 2002. They both remarried and after the breakdown of their subsequent marriages, the mother, Y and the stepfather became a family unit.

The stepfather provided guidance and financial support to Y. The mother and Y lived in Switzerland but spent holidays with the stepfather in London.

The court decided that the stepfather and the mother were partners for the purposes of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

However, the Act also requires that in adoption applications, the child "must have had his home with the applicant ... at all times during the period of six months preceding the application".

Y had been living in Switzerland while the stepfather was in London.

The court ruled that the concept of "home" should be given a wide and flexible interpretation. Y and the mother did not need to be living with the stepfather in one place for Y to have a home with him.

The following factors were relevant:

  • Y had been at school in Switzerland and the pandemic had made travel difficult. The stepfather was in Switzerland for some of that period.

  • The stepfather provided Y with a bedroom at his London home and in normal times Y lived with him during the school holidays when they were not travelling together.

  • Y had another home with his mother in Switzerland but said that he considered London to be his main home.

  • The stepfather, Y and the mother were one family unit even though they were based in different countries.

  • "Home" should not be seen merely in a physical or geographical context: "home" was a place where there was an emotional connection which was just as important. The London flat had an emotional significance to Y and the stepfather, and it was the place where the family came together as one unit.

If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 02080040065, by email at hello@southgate.co.uk or using the form below.

Case Citations: A v R Also known as: YP, Re Family Division [2021] EWHC 3168 (Fam) Arbuthnot J

The contents of this article are general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.

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