Mother just in time to have abducted children returned
The Family Court has clarified the law relating to legal procedure and ruled that a mother was just in time to apply for an order to have her abducted children returned to her.
The mother was a Dominican Republic national, and the father was a Spanish/Colombian national.
They met in Switzerland, where the mother had lived all her life, and had three children who were all Spanish nationals and had Spanish as their first language.
In 2020, the couple separated. On 28 June, the father took the two older children to England, where the maternal grandmother lived, without advance notice to the mother.
The boarding cards showed that the boarding time for the flight was 11:20 UK time. At 19:07 on 29 June, the father texted the mother a photograph of the children on the plane. The mother demanded that he return the children, but he refused to do so.
The third child, aged 2, remained in Switzerland with the mother.
At 12:44 on 28 June 2021, the mother issued an application in London under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 art.1.
The father argued that under the Convention, applications had to be made within one year of the abduction. The mother therefore had only until the end of 27 June to meet that deadline. The mother submitted that she had until the end of 28 June 2021 to apply for the children's return within one year.
The court found in favour of the mother. It held that under the Convention, the period for making applications was calculated from the date, not the time, when the removal took place.
If the removal took place by the child being taken on a flight out of the country of habitual residence, the relevant date was the date at the moment the flight crossed the frontier to leave that country.
The mother was therefore entitled to make her application. The court considered the evidence and held that the children had not become settled or habitually resident in England, and there was no risk of harm if they returned to Switzerland. The court therefore granted to mother’s application under the Hague Convention.
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Case Citations: R (Children), Re Also known as: CC v ME Judge Hess
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