March 8th, 2019
The recent child abduction case RV v VT, was decided by Her Honour Judge Jessica Pemberton in the High Court.
The parents met and began a relationship in Latvia, in 2009 and had their son in Latvia in 2014. In October 2014 the family moved to live with the mother’s brother, in England. The mother’s position was that this was a permanent move to the UK. But the father denies this. The parents separated in September 2016 and the child was spending time with both parents. The mother alleged that she was in financially difficulty and so proposed that the child go to stay with the maternal grandmother in Latvia “for a few months”. The father agreed to the move, he claims on a temporary basis. The child then moved back to Latvia in February 2018.
In March 2018 the father travelled to Latvia initially for a short holiday. Once he arrived, he claimed that he realised how much he had missed his son, he decided to remain living in Latvia with his child. He then moved his son in with him at his paternal grandparents’ home. The nother asserts she was unaware of this new development, as soon as she found out she travelled to Latvia and in July she brought the child back to England, without father’s consent.
The father then issued an application under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction requesting the child to be returned to Latvia. The mother opposed the application. She claimed that at the date she removed him from Latvia the child was not habitually resident in that country, and therefore should not be returned there. In the alternative, she claimed both that the father consented to the removal, and that returning the child to Latvia would expose him to physical or psychological harm, or otherwise place him in an intolerable situation.
Judge Pemberton found that when the child was habitually resident in Latvia when the mother removed him, as he was integrated into life in Latvia with familiar family members around him. The Judge found that the removal by his mother was wrong.
In relation to the issue of consent, there was no evidence that the father consented to the child’s removal from Latvia. The mother in fact admitted that she chose not to tell the father as she didn’t want him to cause a scene.
The Judge found that the mother’s defences were not made out and ordered that the child should be returned to Latvia within 14 days.
If you would like any further advice regarding this, or any other, family law issue please contact a member of our specialist Family Law Team at Hawkins.
Stacey qualified as a Solicitor in 2011 having completed her training with Hine Solicitors in Beaconsfield. Stacey has since worked for the Legal 500 firm, Duncan Lewis Solicitors in London. Stacey has extensive experience in all areas of family law including advising clients in relation to co-habitation, divorce, matrimonial finances, pre & post-nuptial agreements. Stacey was delighted to join specialist practice Hawkins Family Law (The Legal 500 2015 recommends the team as “exemplary”) in February 2016 and has considerable experience resolving children issues whether they are in relation to where a child should live or issues regarding contact.
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