A court has refused to return an abducted child to his mother even though he was taken illegally by his father.
The court accepted that it was against the boy’s interests to be sent back to his mother and that he had made it clear that he did not want to live with her because of her lifestyle problems.
The case involved a couple who had married in England and had two daughters who are now aged 15 and 16. The couple moved to France a few years after their marriage and their son was born there. He is now aged 11.
The father later returned to England after the couple separated. The children remained in France with their mother, but spent a month each summer with their father.
In 2014, the father went to France and abducted his son after becoming concerned for his welfare. He said the mother had developed a drink problem, which had a serious impact on her behaviour and on her children.
The mother took legal action in the High Court to have her son returned. The court ruled against her after hearing evidence that the boy had made it clear he did not want to live with her. The two daughters had also given evidence of the mother’s long-term alcohol abuse, erratic personality, psychological abuse of the children and occasional violence.
The French court had authorised a formal investigation, which was still ongoing.
The High Court held that, although the father had illegally abducted his son, it would not be in the boy’s best interests to return him to his mother until she resolved some of her health and behaviour issues.
However, the judge accepted that ultimate jurisdiction remained with the French court, which was currently investigating the case. If it ordered that the boy should be returned, then the British courts would be obliged to enforce that order.
It was therefore up to the father to get involved in the French court process to ensure that his case was heard.
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