Five-year-old consulted in child abduction case

18 APR 2010

The Court of Appeal has upheld an international child abduction decision by Mrs Justice Black in a case where she consulted the views of a five-year-old girl and her brother, aged eight, on which parent the children would prefer to live with.   

The family, including a younger three-year-old boy who was deemed by the High Court judge to be too young to be consulted, lived in Ireland before their mother removed the children without the father's knowledge and brought them to England. 

Last month, Mrs Justice Black, sitting in the High Court's Family Division, rejected an application by the Irish father for the summary return of the children under the Hague Convention.

When the two older children were interviewed by a Cafcass officer to establish if they had any objections to returning to Ireland, the boy "became very fidgety" and his little sister started to cry.

In her ruling Mrs Justice Black said the Hague Convention "does not stipulate an age below which a child cannot have attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of its views and nor do the authorities".

Mrs Justice Black said the children's apprehension of returning to Ireland was rooted "in their own experiences of family life and their fear of their father" and there was no evidence to support that they had been influenced or put under pressure by their mother.

The Court of Appeal judges, Lord Justice Wilson and Lord Justice Sedley, reserved handing down the court's reasons for the decision to a later date.

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