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11 APR 2007

ABDUCTION: Re A (Abduction: Habitual Residence) [2007] EWHC 779 (Fam)

(Family Division; Sumner J; 4 April 2007)

The mother and child travelled out to the USA to join the father with a settled intention to remain there, but within a few days it became clear that the marriage was over and on the 8th day after arrival the mother informed the father that she would return to England. The father consented to the return, although the father's case was that he had consented only on the basis that the child would be returning to the USA 4 months later. The father eventually sought the summary return of the child under the Hague Convention.

The period of 7 or 8 days was too short for the acquisition of habitual residence. If it was possible to acquire habitual residence in a period of 7 days, it had not been sufficient in this case, because the mother had changed her mind so quickly after arrival in the US and had never settled in the US. The child had, with the mother, lost habitual residence in the UK when the mother travelled out to the US with the settled intention of residing in the US, but had not acquired a new habitual residence before returning to England. In any event, the court found that the father had consented to the child's permanent return to the UK and had understood that although the child would come back to the US after 4 months, that would be for a visit only.

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