A mother has won the right to keep her son in the UK after the father took legal action to take him to Australia.
The case involved a couple who met and formed a long distance relationship in 2011. They had a son together but separated soon afterwards. She continued to live in England with her son and the father stayed in Australia.
During this time they reconciled and separated several times.
In April 2016, the mother and son travelled to Australia for what the father claimed was a permanent move. According to the mother, it was a trial attempt to see if their relationship could succeed in the long term.
After less than a week, she returned to the UK with her son. She said her reason for leaving was that she had found material on the father’s computer which indicated his infidelity with a number of women.
The father claimed that the son had become habitually resident in Australia and so should stay there with him.
The mother opposed the application, asserting that the boy never became habitually resident in Australia as evidenced by the fact that her own life had always been centred in the UK, she had retained employment options from July to December 2016 and had no employment in Australia.
She had made no school or nursery application for her son in Australia, where she had only a visitor’s visa, and she had travelled with only one suitcase of possessions.
The court ruled in favour of the mother. It held that a place of habitual residence was one which reflected some degree of integration by the child in a social and family environment in the country concerned. In this case, that was clearly the UK.
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