Court orders that 10-year-old boy should be returned to his mother
The Family Court has ruled that a 10-year-old boy who was abducted by his father and taken to England should be returned to his mother in Portugal.
The mother and father, who also had a daughter aged 16, had separated in 2009 and subsequently divorced.
In 2014, the father relocated to England but travelled to Portugal two or three times a year to visit the children. In December 2016, a Portuguese court granted residence of the children to the mother. There was an agreement for them to spend time with the father, including in England.
In June last year, the mother went on holiday, leaving the children with a cousin and their aunt. On 4 July, the father arrived in Portugal and brought his son back to England. The daughter remained in Portugal.
The mother applied for the boy to be returned to her under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980.
The father opposed the application, saying that the son objected to returning to Portugal. He would suffer a grave risk of harm and be placed in an intolerable situation if he were forced to do so. He also claimed the mother had consented to his relocation to England.
The court found in favour of the mother. It held that although the son had some misgivings about his mother, the father had not proved that he objected to returning to her in Portugal.
There was no conclusive evidence that the mother had given her consent to relocation. The law required that such consent had to be clear and unequivocal.
The father had also failed to prove that the mother posed a grave risk of harm to her son.
It was clear that the boy had been wrongfully removed and should be returned to Portugal. His return was to be arranged so that he had enough time to get settled for his return to school.
Please contact Paul Owen or Shelley Rolfe if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.