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International Family Law

The leading authority on international family law

25 MAY 2012

In the Matter of S (A Child) [2012] UKSC 10 (2012) ICLLR 004

Abduction - Article 13(b) harm defence - Mother's mental state - Whether anxieties about return must be based upon objective risk

14 March 2012
Supreme Court
Lord Phillips, President, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr and Lord Wilson

Child (2) was born in Australia. Father ("F") was Australian. Mother was British ("M"). Child was removed by M from Australian to England without F's consent. F sough the return of child to Australia under Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 ("Hague Convention 1980"). M defended the proceedings on the basis of an article 13(b) harm defence. M made allegations against F of drugs and alcohol misuse. Mr Justice Charles held at first instance (and this was not interfered with at any appellate level) that a number of M's serious allegations were either admitted by F or could not sensible be denied; there was a prima facia case that M was victim of serious abuse at the hands of F. M had obtained Apprehended Violence Order (the equivalent of a non-molestation order in English law) from Australian court before removing the child to England.

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