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28 MAY 2008

LEAVE TO REMOVE: Re W (Leave to Remove) [2008] EWCA Civ 538

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe and Wilson LJJ and Charles J; 20 May 2008)

The Swedish family had lived in London for 15 years; the three children were all attending private schools. Following the separation the family had significant financial problems. The mother sought to return with the children to Sweden, where comparable schooling and housing would be much cheaper. The father asserted that the children's welfare depended upon their remaining at the London schools. The children were broadly supportive of such a move, not least because they envisaged that they would have to leave their current schools for financial reasons in any event. The judge refused the mother leave to remove.

The judge had not given sufficient weight to the family's financial situation; if the mother and children remained in London they would have to find housing of a much lower standard. The wishes and feelings of the children were plain enough and the judge should have given them greater weight. Thorpe LJ suggested that communication issues concerning the Cafcass presentation of the children's views might have been avoided if the judge had met with the children, particularly the eldest, nearly 15 years old, but Wilson LJ and Charles J did not agree that a meeting between the judge and the children would have been appropriate or provided a solution that was fair, and indeed would not have met the children prior to judgment had they been in the judge's position.

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