ABDUCTION: M v M [2008] EWHC 2049 (Fam)

20 AUG 2008

(Family Division; Black J; 20 August 2008)

The Polish children were first retained by the Polish father in England at the end of a holiday. Under a consent order the father eventually returned the children to Poland, but subsequently used passports that had been cancelled by the Polish court to abduct the children back to England, concealing their destination. The mother issued Hague proceedings as soon as she had traced the children's whereabouts, but by the time the case came to court the children had lived in England for just over one year, raising the possibility of a defence of settlement under Hague Convention on Abduction, Art 12.

While the court must be careful not to be inappropriately influenced by the fact that a parent had behaved in a way open to considerable criticism, and it was accepted that it did not follow from the fact that a parent had been in a vulnerable and watchful state of mind that the children would have been unable to settle into their new environment, these two children, who had been very aware of the possibility that they might have to return to Poland, and had both been subjected to parental influence leading them to express extreme preferences for remaining in England, were not settled within Art 12.

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